NOT all charities are equal.
I learned that hard lesson decades ago when as a young journo I loudly backed what I thought was a great cause – a big name charity in NSW – until it dawned on me that half the donations were going as wages, glossy promotions and expenses.
Money spent on direct services often float around 60 cents in the dollar.
Dunno about you, but I'm a bit too tight for that. If hard-pressed people are digging deep for a charity, the least they should be able to expect is that their cash is getting to where it is intended.
I can’t help but wonder how many laps are walked, or auction items sold, or events staged, to pay for a charity director earning twice the average wage, or long lunches, or key rings, or city advertising agencies. I became a bit suss – until 2005, when I discovered Macarthur’s 24 Hour Fight Against Cancer.
Crikey. A charity that actually sends almost every cent raised to the cause (fighting cancer) – with no paid staff, very few overheads (in-kind sponsorship helps there), and the local media, social media and word-of-mouth providing the promotions.
I tried to find the catch, but realised there wasn't one. Just a volunteer committee of caring people from Campbeltown, Camden and Wollondilly – many of whom are from families touched by cancer – who wanted to do the right thing.
So, how does it look after our local cancer patients?
Well, the full list would fill this page, but to name just a few things: world-class surgical equipment that wouldn’t normally be available locally; specialised cooling caps to help save hair loss during chemotherapy, and even a mini bus to transport cancer patients undergoing radiation treatment, etc (it made 2022 trips in 2016). Practical help, as guided by experts.
I was so impressed I joined the committee seven years ago and, sure enough, found great local people juggling this great event with normal day jobs and family life.
To put that in perspective, we had our annual Paul Nunnari Push on Friday, going from school to school, as a curtain-raiser for the main walkathon event at Leumeah on October 21 and 22.
There wasn’t a paid official with a clipboard anywhere to be seen. I was travelling in a small convoy with chairman Warren Morrison of The Sleeping Giant (who is doing his best to keep Fred Borg’s charity dream alive). With us was push sponsor Brad Purcell of Bob Jane T-Mart on Blaxland Road, who with his wife, Bec, is a big-hearted backer of this event.
Also Brian Laul from Wizard of Oz Funland, a traffic escort from Mac Fields police (thanks, guys) and the road crew from C91.3 FM. Not to mention the man himself: Paul Nunnari, whose rapport with the kids is a joy to watch.
Other charity members Sue McGarrity, Christine Edge, David Muller, and Dave Eckford from Mr Rental, joined us along the way.
Thanks to all the schools – St Peter’s Anglican, Thomas Reddall High, Appin Public School, John Therry High, St Paul’s Camden, Magdalene High and Beverley Park – the first time we’ve covered all three local government areas in the one trip.
It’s now time to register your team for the October event. It might be based on family and friends, a school or sporting group, a business, or a council or health service. Go to 24hrfight.org.au for all the details.
As I always stress, you don’t have to walk for 24 hours. That is simply how long the event lasts. It’s all about getting involved for however long you want, having a lot of fun, and raising cash for a great cause.
And, to avoid confusion for Camden readers, the Relay for Life event held at Onslow Park this month supports the Cancer Council NSW. The 24 Hour Fight Against Cancer in October is the one that supports local patients in Macarthur Cancer Therapy Centre, Oncology Ward and Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit at Campbelltown Hospital, and the Palliative Care Unit and associated Outreach service at Camden Hospital.
By Macarthur, for Macarthur, in Macarthur.