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The RFSA is sitting on $9,788,262 (ref: NSW RFSA Annual Financial Report – 31 March 2015), this article poses the question “what are you doing with all that money?”

Two Associations

Not all NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Volunteers are aware that there are two Associations that can provide a range of assistance and support.

The Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) gathers its membership automatically via an “opt out” system and then there is the poorer cousin (in terms of income), the Volunteer Fire Fighters Association (VFFA) that has built its membership base on an “opt in” system alone.

Both Associations do some great work and the main difference between the two is that the VFFA recognises that conflict can occur between paid and unpaid workers of the NSW RFS therefore the VFFA membership is based upon Volunteer memberships. The volunteer (unpaid) workers of the NSW RFS deserve a voice when there are times of conflict at any level of government.

There has been many occasions where the VFFA has been approached by the public with questions on fundraising activities and the VFFA has informed those people that we do not conduct telephone based fund raising therefore it was the other Association who is calling you.

The history of the RFSA opt-out system

The following history of the opt-out system was featured in another story titled personal information shall not be disclosed. Click HERE to view that story.

The NSW RFS Membership Forms were modified in 2009 from an Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) opt-in system to the current opt-out system (see evidence below)

membership_form_extract_2009_August

The image (above) is an extract from the August 2009 NSW RFS Membership Form. This version presented new RFS Members with an option to select YES or NO to become a member of the RFSA.

membership_form_extract_2009_November

The image (above) is an extract from the November 2009 NSW RFS Membership Form. There was a major change to the RFSA membership option. RFSA membership had become an opt-out system.

membership_form_extract_2012_June

The image (above) is an extract from the June 2012 NSW RFS Membership Form. This form remains in use at the time of publishing this article. The RFSA opt-out system continues to be used.

Fundraising activities

Unlike the RFSA, The VFFA does not use any form of telephone based fundraising. The VFFA generates some income from the sale of advertising in our magazine and we receive donations from time to time from our members and supporters.

The VFFA followed up on a request from a member of the public who was complaining about the annoying phone calls from a call centre who was raising funds for the RFSA.

The principal source of funding for the RFSA continues to be through the NSW RFSA Raffles, conducted on behalf of the NSW RFSA by telemarketing company, Contact Centres Australia, under the provisions of the Lotteries and Art Union Act 1901 and the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991 (NSW RFSA Authority Number CFN 22439). The NSW RFSA Raffles comply with the requirements of the NSW Department of Gaming and Racing.

Those annoying phone calls

The call centre operator stated that the money raised would go to rural communities to purchase gear and equipment.

How much money finds its way to those rural communities?

The following information has been obtained from NSW RFSA Inc Annual Financial Statements:

Year Raffle Income Grants Given Out to Brigades
2007 7,647,512 750,000
2008 7,119,355 770,900
2009 7,336,556 900,000
2010 7,918,128 348,347
2011 7,885,595 646,359
2012 7,708,699 831,662
2013 2,435,833 140,896
2014 7,615,495 991,252
2015 9,775,761 1,491,025

The costs associated with engaging the call centre gobbles up over 51% of the gross income and there are many other administrative costs.

NSW RFSA Grant Scheme – Advice from the RFSA President

Tuesday, 05 April 2016

Dear Members,

You may recall that I advised Members in November 2015 via the RFSA newsletter and information published on the Association’s website that the NSW RFSA Grant Scheme for 2016 would be postponed until further notice, whilst a review was conducted of the Association’s Giving Programs.

At the February 2016 State Council meeting, discussions were held about the Association’s strategic objectives, including our Giving Programs and therefore the Grant Scheme.

It was resolved by State Council that a new style of Grant Scheme be launched later in 2016. The details of this new Grant Scheme are currently being resolved and will be communicated to Members in the second half of 2016.

At this point, Grant applications are not currently being considered by the Association.

All of the Association’s other Giving Programs remain unchanged which means sponsorship applications for training, events and brigade celebrations continue to be received and reviewed, a Volunteers’ Family Day is currently being organised in RFSA Division 1 and nominations for the Association’s Honours and Awards are open until 30 April.

I do encourage you to keep up to date with the Association’s news and initiatives via our website, newsletters and RFSA communications structure as any advice regarding the revised Grant Scheme will be shared on these platforms.

Yours faithfully,

Ken Middleton

President

pdfClick on this PDF icon to download the document (Advice from the RFSA President)

Summary

  1. 2016 is not going to be a good year if your Brigade was seeking an RFSA grant.
  2. It would be much better if those wishing to donate money to NSW RFS Brigades to contact their local Brigade to ensure that the money actually goes where it should.
  3. If you are a member of the RFSA then you have the right to view the NSW RFSA Annual Reports, call them and ask.
  4. We are still interested in finding the answer to the question…

What is the RFSA going to do with the $9.7M?

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4 thoughts on “What are you doing with all that money?

  • May 15, 2016 at 4:06 pm
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    So nice to see you guys at the last campaign fires handing out clean t-shirts and at the family fun days and region north training exercise and thankyou for our grants for equipment for our shed and the offers of councillors if I require them and assistance for my family if I’m injured on the fire ground. Ow hang on, your not the RFSA are you.. what do you do again?
    Isn’t it about time you guys stepped up and show your volunteers what you could do for them instead of trying to run down another organisation.

  • May 15, 2016 at 5:01 pm
    Permalink

    Hey Mark
    Thanks for the comment.
    I take it from your comment that you disagree with our criticism of the RFSA Fundraising.
    We respect your views and are happy to publish your comment.
    Please understand that our article is directed at the RFSA Fundraising, an issue that we have discussed with senior RFSA people. We are not against any organisation that helps our volunteers.
    We will take your advice and ramp up our campaigns to provide greater equality, even equity for all Volunteers (yourself included).

  • October 20, 2016 at 4:18 pm
    Permalink

    Moderator. I tried to chase this up in 2010 when reviewing their 2008 returns. The short answer is (rough numbers – bear with me, this was over 6 years ago) 50% of the funds raised are paid to the telephone company that does the fundraising, 40% gets spent on RFSA admin costs and the actual cost of the raffle prizes. So they are spending the majority of the funds raised, although they do have a sizeable investment portfolio.

    I have no problem with the RFSA raising money to support RFS volunteers. What i do have a problem with is that only 10% ends up with the volunteers and that is the entire premis of the phone calls selling raffle tickets. The people buying the tickets believe that 100% of the funds raised go to the RFS.

    I tried approaching the head of the RFSA but was unsuccessful.

    I am a permanent firefighter with FRNSW and continually come across elderly community members who proudly advise they support us by buying our raffle tickets. When we politely explain that there is a difference between the RFS and FRNSW they usually comment that the telemarketers are quite convincing (unrelenting?) I calmly advise them the above statistic and tell them they would be better off going and paying the money directly to the local RFS brigade for their local needs.

    I note that now the RFSA no longer publicly details their financial returns on the website. I’d be keen to have a look at a more recent copy for you so I can confirm the above ratios.

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