Dialog Box


Why impact is the real measure of success

Barrie joined Cure Brain Cancer in July 2013 after a period of reflection following the death of his 10 year old daughter, Eloise, from brain cancer. He explains why impact towards mission is the true measure of success.

Barrie and Eloise

By Barrie Littlefield

Some of you may have seen or heard news accounts today that have been, in part, aimed at Cure Brain Cancer Foundation and more broadly at the whole charity sector regarding administration costs associated with charities.

This is a complex issue and not one easily explained, even for those who work within the sector and have dedicated their lives to the various causes they represent.

We want to reassure you that the focus of Cure Brain Cancer Foundation has been and will continue to be reaching our mission: to increase brain cancer survival from 20 per cent to 50 per cent by 2023.

Of course, keeping costs as low as possible is important but even more important is having impact and positive outcome. In other words, using the money donated to the best effect. The real debate should not be about costs but impact. It’s easy to shout about how low specific costs for specific charities are, but it is very hard to make a positive, transparent, accountable impact.

Cure Brain Cancer Foundation has and is making a positive impact, dramatically increasing awareness of brain cancer and the issues faced by people living with and impacted by brain cancer; advocating for and mobilising the community to change the outlook for brain cancer research in Australia; and, funding cutting edge research that fits within our world-class research strategy, which is focused on accelerating treatments to patients:

  • We are collaborating with the Australian Federal Government and Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation on the Australian Brain Cancer Mission, a ten year $100m roadmap to double brain cancer survival and improve outcomes for people impacted by the disease. We will commit $20 million to this roadmap, and have already invested $2 million of that amount since the Mission was announced two weeks ago.
  • We have given the brain cancer community a platform to have their voice at the highest level, being influential in the establishment of the Senate Select Committee into Funding for Research into Low Survival Cancers. This enquiry placed brain cancer on the map, and ensured Canberra was aware of the issues facing brain cancer patients in this country.
  • Next week we will announce the recipients of our 2017 Early Career Fellowships and Innovation Grants. These grants are a $1 million commitment to ensuring the brightest and most innovative minds are attracted to and retained within brain cancer research.
  • Overall, we have committed $13 million to research projects in the past five years, 90 per cent of which were in Australia. In the past year alone we have funded 25 research projects with over 200 collaborators across four continents.

The positive disruption in the sector is the focus on impact – this is the main reason why people are donating: to achieve the mission, not to know that that 95 per cent of their money goes to their local research lab.

At Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, we do not care where the answer to brain cancer comes from. We just want the answer. Brain cancer is unacceptable. It is unacceptable that there are virtually no effective treatments and that people living with brain cancer and their families have to face a very difficult, uncertain and often traumatic future. While we make every effort to fund Australian research, we also have a global outlook, connecting, collaborating, reducing replication and waste. This all contributes to reaching our mission.

We recommend that anyone interested should watch the below TED Talk (and also encourage you to read our statement):

Jaunita Wheeler: Busting the overhead charity myth (Brisbane: TEDx South Bank 2015) 

This talk offers a compelling argument that effectively dispels those currently being put forward. This is positive disruption. Cure Brain Cancer Foundation is moving forward, focused on mission and empowering and advocating for people impacted by brain cancer to change the unacceptable situation that currently exists.

Response to media about charity costs