toyota community partnerships

How Toyota for Business is powering fundraising for kids

3 min read

little girl and flower

In this Q&A series, we talk to community leaders and Toyota fleet partners who have proven they can take on tough challenges and come out on top.

We spoke with Mark McGill, CEO of Variety Australia, who runs the national arm of the incredible, showbiz founded global charity. With the help of Toyota, they raise money through amateur motoring events to help disadvantaged kids. We talked about how this single-minded focus on fundraising is the key to their success.

children playing
children playing

Can you describe how the Variety Charity first came about and how it operates today?

It started with a group of theatre owners in the States back in the Depression era. A mother left her baby daughter in a theatre. A group of theatre owners, who were known in the entertainment industry as the Variety Club, used to meet up there and they took this baby in and cared for her.

In Australia, we've been in operation since it first started in New South Wales, in Sydney, 45 years ago. Paul Hogan was our first chairman, so we’ve continued to have great links to the entertainment industry.

We raise money for all sorts of children’s’ needs, from as little as six hundred dollars for an iPad, through to life-changing flights overseas for must-have surgery.

We play to our strengths. Variety focuses on generating income, which then allows us to maximise the impact. So, where a child might require a particular piece of medical equipment that otherwise the family simply can't afford, it will change the child's life.

But there's everything in between. In terms of levelling the playing field, there have been hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions nationally, on all forms of accessibility in playgrounds. This is where we can offer the same opportunities to children living with disability or children with disadvantaged circumstances.

artsy little girl
artsy little girl

How do you raise money to fund these programs that help so many kids?

Well, this is really when we get into actual business. Our core business has always been generating funds from events and functions. And to that point our flagship events are motoring. So, we have our famous Variety Bash, our 4-Wheel-Drive Adventure, our Moto Run and now we have the Aussie Muscle Cars in South Australia. These events generate probably around 60% of our income.

There are lots of children's charities that wouldn't exist without financial support from Variety and wouldn't be able to function in the efficient manner that they do without financial support. We allow more children to receive services through the provision of funds to these many and varied entities, which are mostly directed in families, schools and clinics. And that, in turn, adds up to tens of thousands of kids a year.

Variety's strength is in these fundraising events, creating the infrastructure and running complex events so smoothly and year in, year out. What kind of things do you rely on Toyota for?

Absolutely everything. Every single thing to do with the vehicle from servicing to spare parts, everything you can imagine. So, I'll give you the Variety Bash as an example. All our official support vehicles are the LandCruiser model, and we have an official vehicle for every eight entrant vehicles now because safety is a priority. A LandCruiser is a real luxury way to do the Bash as opposed to the back of a 30-year-old car. But the reliability and safety that we've had from LandCruiser and HiLux vehicles all played a part in the Bash in terms of official vehicles, logistic support and refrigerated vans etc. All the support necessary to keep 343 people (in the last Bash) safe, fed and watered.

We’ve just come back from the far, far north of South Australia, the Strzelecki track, which obviously doesn't see that much rain and hence there's a lot of dust. We take probably 15 air filters with us. So,it's all really micro things. The LandCruisers are technically set up to carry the weight that we need, within the specifications of the front-end and suspension. So, we've got roof racks and generators and all the bits and pieces that you need to run an event and move a small town daily[P4].

As a charity we purchased the LandCruisers which we then drove to a point that they recommended; 40,000 or 60,000 kms. And at that point it costs us little or nothing to change that vehicle over. So aftersales are brilliant for us as well, so we don't have money wasted sitting in the car.

There's a real personal investment from Toyota – we've got team members from Toyota that are on committees for us. There's a deeper engagement in the organisation than simply providing vehicles.

“There's a deeper engagement in the organisation than simply providing vehicles.”

- Mark McGill, CEO of Variety Australia

What advice would you give to people who want to make a big or small difference in their world through charity?

It doesn't matter in my eyes if you’re wholly invested as a volunteer, as a sponsor, or as a donor. It's simply about doing something that you know. Pick something that is relevant to your family, or pick something that resonates with you, something that means something to you, because then you suddenly find yourself being a whole lot more engaged and invested in the process of helping others. Then what you give is also what you get, because it's very much a two-way street. The more you give, the more you get and it becomes really addictive.

That seems like a pretty good addiction. Thanks for chatting with me and sharing such an incredible story.

When so many kids count on the fundraising of Variety, it’s good to know that Variety can count on Toyota. If you’re doing important work, if you need to know that your vehicles has your back in tough conditions then you can’t go wrong with a Toyota.

Our Toyota for Business team has the expertise to tailor solutions for your business needs, everything from recommending the right vehicle for the job to designing the perfect management plan. Find out how we can help you and your business.

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