It’s hard to put a fig­ure on chang­ing lives

Can­cer Coun­cil can only do its best with long-term fund­ing, ex­plains Penny Egan

Mercury (Hobart) - - TALKING POINT - Penny Egan is chief ex­ec­u­tive Can­cer Coun­cil Tas­ma­nia.

HAPPY New Year to all of Can­cer Coun­cil Tas­ma­nia’s many sup­port­ers statewide.

Sur­viv­ing in busi­ness is all about profit and cash. We are a busi­ness. Can­cer Coun­cil Tas­ma­nia won the 2018 Tel­stra Busi­ness Award So­cial Change Maker Cat­e­gory.

We rely prin­ci­pally on the gen­eros­ity of the Tas­ma­nian pub­lic for funds to op­er­ate the busi­ness and we must make well-in­formed de­ci­sions on how that money is spent to en­sure we can pro­vide qual­ity and rel­e­vant ser­vices to Tasmanians.

Fi­nan­cial state­ments mea­sure the fi­nan­cial profit. Many sys­tems can mea­sure out­puts, but mea­sur­ing non­fi­nan­cial out­comes is not so easy to re­port.

How do you mea­sure the smile you have put on some­one’s face or the call you may have re­ceived thank­ing you for be­ing there when they needed some­one to lis­ten or speak to.

These are such im­por­tant mea­sures, but not al­ways the mea­sures that ap­pease the re­port­ing re­quire­ments of grantees and gov­ern­ments.

A mea­sure is as­sess­ing the im­por­tance, ef­fect or value of some­thing. Some­times they are not tan­gi­ble but they are mem­o­rable.

In­for­ma­tion abounds on what we need to mea­sure and why. For any busi­ness there are rea­sons to mea­sure out­puts and out­comes. Out­puts are nu­meric but out­comes can be eu­phoric.

Many not-for-prof­its will have sub­mit­ted their state bud­get sub­mis­sions to Trea­sury in De­cem­ber.

We re­main hope­ful each year the gov­ern­ment will sup­port us through ad­di­tional fi­nan­cial sup­port for our pro­grams and ac­tiv­i­ties.

The State Gov­ern­ment ob­vi­ously has its pri­or­i­ties and chal­lenges with a grow­ing and age­ing pop­u­la­tion, ed­u­ca­tion par­tic­i­pa­tion, un­em­ploy­ment, low em­ploy­ment growth, high rates of so­cioe­co­nomic dis­ad­van­tage, poor health and ris­ing health costs and hous­ing af­ford­abil­ity. The list is seem­ingly end­less.

Can­cer Coun­cil Tas­ma­nia un­der­stands these pri­or­i­ties — we live here, we work here and our clients are here.

Many of the Gov­ern­ment’s pri­or­i­ties and chal­lenges are also ours. Tas­ma­nia’s grow­ing and age­ing pop­u­la­tion im­pacts on many not-for-prof­its.

We want to as­sist the needs of our com­mu­nity but without se­cure fund­ing the in­puts are prob­lem­atic and the out­comes are im­mea­sur­able. More is not al­ways bet­ter. Bet­ter is bet­ter.

But we also know that new and on­go­ing in­vest­ment can make a dif­fer­ence to our clients when the in­vest­ment trans­lates into sus­tain­able, rel­e­vant and qual­ity pro­grams.

Some­times the out­comes will not be seen in the short term but we must, at an ap­pro­pri­ate point, be able to as­sess the ex­tent to which it has achieved in­tended re­sults.

Gov­ern­ments want to see out­comes, we all do.

Elec­tion cy­cles and terms of gov­ern­ment don’t al­ways al­low time for the eval­u­a­tion of in­vest­ment to as­cer­tain what has been achieved.

A re­cent study out­lined that the most im­por­tant goal of eval­u­a­tion is not to de­ter­mine whether a pro­gram works, but how to make a pro­gram bet­ter over time.

This trans­lates to busi­ness im­prove­ment. We all need to do this to sur­vive.

Can­cer does not rest and nei­ther do we. Can­cer Coun­cil Tas­ma­nia will con­tinue to work dili­gently, clev­erly and pru­dently to im­prove and grow our pro­grams to sup­port Tasmanians af­fected by can­cer. Last year we pro­vided 5300 oc­ca­sions of sup­port and con­nected with 4500 Tasmanians on how to re­duce their can­cer risk. But ev­ery day, nine Tasmanians re­ceive a can­cer di­ag­no­sis. Can­cer Coun­cil Tas­ma­nia is there for those Tasmanians, their fam­i­lies and friends, as they live through and hope­fully sur­vive ini­tial di­ag­no­sis.

Stay­ing safe and healthy in 2019 are good out­comes to be achieved. May we all do that.

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