Harnessing corporate relationships to improve health outcomes in rural and remote Australia

  • RFDS staff in front of TAL banner

Photo: RFDS

Those working in the rural health industry are forever chasing funding and corporate relationships as a valuable way to bolster income streams. The disparity in health outcomes between the city and the bush is the driver that keeps rural health organisations pushing to build and enhance existing services and to establish new services in areas that sorely need them.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia (RFDS) launched a national partnership program at the beginning of 2016 and has been working hard to build and secure long-term corporate partners that align with the mission and work of the Flying Doctor. There have been many lessons learned in this process and there are now several relationships that are bringing benefits to both parties.

Modern organisations seek to align themselves with and support worthy not-for-profit causes that fit with their business model, mission or aims. ‘Cause-marketing’ as it is termed, is becoming more important than ever before due to societal pressures on large corporates as well as internal pressures from their staff who want to make a difference.

Research shows there are economic benefits accruing to corporate partners as a direct result of a well-executed cause-marketing campaign. These benefits are seen in terms of revenue and increased sales, reduced staff turnover, as well as public relations value to the company or brand. It has been shown, for example, that a majority of consumers want to hear about a business’s social responsibility, and when choosing between two brands of equal quality and price are more likely to switch to a cause-branded product. 

The RFDS has recently established two very different national partnerships - with Neverfail Spring Water and TAL Insurance.

Neverfail is a major spring water brand. With approximately 80,000 customers and 150 independently owned local distributors and contractors, they provide spring water and filtered-water coolers to businesses and homes across Australia. They have more than 50 per cent of the water cooler market in Australia. Their cause-related marketing campaign, as part of the partnership with the RFDS, is to donate $100 to the Flying Doctor for every new water cooler order placed in the Australian health sector. This partnership provides Neverfail with an advantage over competitors and a persuasive reason for a business or consumer to sign up with them to make spring water available to their customers, clients, staff or household. It also builds on an engaged Neverfail workforce when a new sale is going to make a real difference to the lives of country people. At the same time, the partnership is providing a revenue stream for the Flying Doctor to improve health services in rural and remote Australia.

TAL, a major life insurance specialist, is another national partner of the RFDS. TAL’s employees are keen to participate directly in supporting the Flying Doctor. The relationship between the RFDS and TAL is driven by social responsibility and the company’s desire to make a difference for a cause they are excited about. In addition to an ongoing TAL free skin spot-check service that will be seen at beaches around the country this spring and summer, company staff are fundraising to get a defibrillator co-located with the more than 3,000 medical chests that the Flying Doctor uses to make medical supplies and equipment available in remote areas.  This will result in lives being saved and, specifically, will decrease the number of country deaths from coronary heart disease.

Harnessing corporate relationships is vital to enabling the RFDS to continue providing quality and innovative health services to those living, working and travelling in rural and remote Australia. The Royal Flying Doctor Service is proud to be working with both Neverfail and TAL to align shared values of organisations and improve health outcomes in this big country of ours.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service was principal sponsor for the 14th National Rural Health Conference http://www.ruralhealth.org.au/14nrhc/


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