The Heart and Stroke Foundation in Canada is a federation of 10 provincial foundations with the mission of increasing awareness of the risk factors that are faced by many toward Heart and Stroke related diseases, to help individuals to make healthy life style choices and also to raise funds to aid heart and stroke related medical research. Its vision therefore is to eliminate Heart and Stroke disease in the Canadian population though the exercise of all of the above.
The foundation is fully run by 130,000 volunteers country wide, who plan, design, develop and organize many different events that not only help the foundation to increase its profile and awareness amongst the communities. But it also helps the foundation to raise funds from corporations and individuals for the necessary research as well as to lobby the Canadian government and Ministry of health to take preventative measures to reduce heart disease within the population.
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'Ride for the Heart' is the most important and most publicized event of all the different events planned and organized by the foundation. This event takes place every summer in all of Canada's 10 provinces and helps raise millions of dollars for research. The event is styled much like the 'Run for the Cure', which raises funds for breast cancer research and has seen much popularity and uptake amongst the Canadian population.
While the event is well organized and usually the foundation is able to meet its goals and objectives through this event, there is still, room for improvement. Therefore it is recommended that the foundation makes this event accessible to many individuals. While 'Ride for the Heart' is a biking event, and most individuals in the metropolitan cities where the event is held are able to bike, it still leaves out a large segment of individuals like older females who are reluctant to bike but are equally at risk of the disease. Therefore it has been recommended that the foundation organizes the event in such a manner that would help accommodate all these individuals and further increase participation rates and thus funds that are raised and awareness that has been gained through the event.
'Ride for the Heart', is an annual event that takes place every summer in different parts of Canada and is an event that sees many participants joining in from many different walks of life. The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada is the organisation that is instrumental in organizing, managing and delivering this event on an annual basis. While this is not the only event that is organized and delivered by the foundation, this is the most important and most publicized event in the portfolio of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
'Ride for the Heart' is modeled much like the CIBC 'Run for the Cure', which is a fund raising event to increase awareness and collect funds for cancer research throughout Canada. Like the 'Run for the Cure' event, the 'Ride for the Heart' event sees participants who enter chiefly to feel like they did something worthwhile, while others participate in the event because they are survivors of heart attacks, other forms of heart disease and strokes. Many other participants are surviving family or friends of individuals who have succumbed to these diseases and therefore feel that they need to do something to increase awareness in memory of their friend or loved one.
STRUCTURE OF THE ORGANISATION
This section of the report will discuss the structure of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
The foundation is a volunteer-based charity that was formed with the sole intention of increasing awareness amongst the community on the dangers and risk factors of heart disease and strokes. The organisation's mission is to eradicate heart disease through increased awareness and by raising funds for research that will help eliminate heard disease and strokes. Advocating healthy living and helping the population to make healthy life style choices are also a part of its mission. Besides the 'Ride for the Heart' event, the foundation has organizes many different events around the year such as the 'Heart and Stroke Lottery', 'Big Bike', 'Jump Rope for the Heart', 'Hoop for the Heart' and 'Hockey for the Heart'. While some events are planned on a grand scale others are more simple and easier to organize and put together and therefore are meant for individuals and organisations, that would like to get involved in fun raising for a worthy cause (Kelly, 1998).
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As stated above the foundation is volunteer based and therefore has over 130,000 voluteers working on different programmes and events around the year, throughout Canada. As a volunteer based organisation, it is a registered charity and therefore falls under the category of a not-for profit organisation (Jolly & Martinez, 2004). It is a federation of 10 foundations that encompass all of Canada's 10 provinces.
Like any organisation, the foundation has both a mission and a vision statement, which describes and details the purpose, goals and the objectives of the foundation (Mullen & Lyles, 1993). This vision and mission that is set out by the foundation, no doubt helps it in all aspects of its interaction with the general public and the different stakeholder groups (Kirk, 2000), which will be discussed in the next section of this report.
CONTEXT OF THE DELIVERY
In this section the context of the delivery organisation behind the 'Ride for the Heart' will be discussed.
'Ride for the Heart'
As stated in the introduction to the foundation, the purpose of the Heart and Stroke Foundation is to increase awareness on the heart and stroke and related diseases. The foundation seeks to help communities and individuals to be informed of their risks and hence to make healthy life style choices that would help them to reduce the risks that they are faced with (Suss, 2000). It is also the mission of the foundation to raise funds for research into the diseases and also to lobby for preventative care to be provided to Canadians through the universal health care programme that is afforded by the Canadian government (Weinstein, 2002).
Goals and Objectives
While all of the above is broadly the goals and objectives of the foundation, 'Ride for the Heart' gains much through sponsorships that helps the foundation in terms of its fund raising activities, thus helping it is to meet its chief goal which is to ensure that more research is carried out into this particular are (Somerville, 1995), (Massey, 2000). Through the different events that are organized and especially through the 'Ride for the Heart' event, which is considered to be a high profile event, the foundation gains much needed publicity and momentum through media sponsorships and advertisements, which in turn help it in the long term and continuous fund raising activities (Schonfelder, 1998), (Pettey, 2002).
Further all of the above also helps the foundation to increase its profile in the eyes of the general public, which then becomes more aware of their risk factors to heart related diseases (Jakupec & Garrick, 2000), (Sargeant & Jay, 2004), thus helping the foundation to achieve another one of its goals, which is to raise awareness in a manner that would help individuals to reduce their risk factors through the development of healthy life style choices. Thus through this one event the foundation is able to achieve many of its objectives in a manner that is beneficial to all the stakeholders (McManus, 2002), (Bonn & Pettigrew, 2009)
DISCUSSION AND DECISION MAKING
This section discusses the decision making process within the foundation with regard to the event planning process.
Decision Making Process
The 'Ride for the Heart' event is the largest fund raising event that is planned and organized by the foundation and hence most of its resources in terms of volunteers and financial resources are usually allocated to this one event. Due to the vast nature of the event, it takes close to a year to plan and organize the entire event and sponsorships and other important aspects are often planned months ahead of the actual event. Due to the complicated nature of the event and the organizing that is necessary, decision making is decentralized wherever possible. This helps to ensure that quick remedial action is taken wherever necessary and 'red tape' and bureaucracy is at a minimum (Harris, Lock & Rees, 2000).
Event Planning Approach
Due to the vast nature of the event, many different project managers are involved in planning the event, and they all report in to one lead project manager. This helps further with the decentralization of the decision making process and helps to ensure that all the different areas are well taken care of and contingencies planned for. The downside of this approach is that with so many different project teams working on this one event, immense co-ordination is necessary to ensure that there is no wastage of resources and duplication of work (Basile, 1992).
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This section of the report discusses all the management issues that were faced such as the different ethical issues that had to be confronted, the question of sustainability of the campaign in the long run and any policy transfer issues.
Heart attacks and strokes are a major cause of death and disability amongst the Canadian population. And research has proven that women are equally at risk of the disease as men, however in women it is found to be a silent killer most often than not, women are less aware of their risk factor to heart disease. Due to these reasons it makes it very easy for the foundation to increase awareness by using 'fear factors', such as exaggerating the risk factors and the probability of dying from heart disease, while this may seem like a good alternative that will startle the general public into action, it is unethical.
While one may venture to state that since it is for a worthy cause and no harm is done by exaggerating the numbers, rather only good can come out of such an action, it is yet unethical (Mack, 1999). Because participation and awareness is raised through fraudulent means, which in turn will not help the foundation in the long run, but damage its credibility and put into question any new statistics and information that is provided by the foundation in the future (Dean, 2004). Therefore when one takes into account the long-term implications of such a hoax it makes it not only unethical but also absolutely unattractive to follow (Grace & Wendroff, 2001).
The sustainability of this annual event in the long run is possible if the event planners continue to be innovative (Drakes, 2007). Unlike in the past when the first 'Ride for the Heart' event was organized, today many different charities and foundations use the same type of events to raise funds and awareness of their different causes. While there is no harm in doing so, the general public are normally bombarded with so many different events and with so many different appeals for their funds that unless 'Ride for the Heart' can stand out from the rest, it runs the risk of being forgotten and therefore being unable to raise funds adequately (Kopp, 2005).
Currently the foundation uses social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and others to organize, plan, publicise and raise funds and should continue to be innovative and make use of the latest trends and fads in society if it is to continue to be as successful. While using technology is certainly highly commendable, it should also be remembered that there is a large segment of the population that is at risk of Heart and Stroke related diseases, who are not technologically savvy and therefore the foundation should also develop new methods that would help to increase awareness amongst this community and appeal to them for funds and donations (Lange, 1995).
This section discusses both the opportunities and challenges that the foundation is faced with due to market trends, economic downturns and others.
Unlike in the past, today more individuals are interested in serving their communities through volunteer work and fund raising activities which works well for the foundation as it is able to recruit individuals and organisations more easily (Funk, Filo, Beaton & Pritchard, 2009). However as stated in the previous section, unlike in the past, today there are many different organsiations and charities, raising funds for different causes in Canada and internationally, while individuals are more generous, the number of the charities and foundations have grown significantly through the years, and has outpaced the increase in donations and offerings ('Event Calendar', 2007). Thus making it quite a challenge for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and its 'Ride for the Heart' event to raise as much funds as possible as it has to compete with so many different charities and events.
Likewise in the recent past, charities and foundations have also earned a bad reputation which for using more than 75% of the funds collected on administration related expenses, high salaries for the staff, and increased overheads for events, thus reducing the amount individuals are willing to donate, as they are skeptical about the use of their funds. While the Heart and Stroke Foundation keeps its overhead at 25% or less and is run by over 130,000 volunteers from around the country, the bad reputation that follows the not for profit industry makes it more difficult for the Heart and Stroke Foundation to raise funds.
The economic downturn of the last two years, has further caused a dent in the fund raising capability of the foundation and the 'Ride for the Heart' event, which had to be scaled down in the last two years, due to the reduced number of participants, which was found to be a direct result of the economic downturn and the lack of available funds to donate. Likewise, even this year, the foundation has had to be cautious in the planning process to ensure that it does not overspend or overestimate the participation rate.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
While the 'Ride for the Heart' event has been very successful in the past few years, it is unfortunate that many individuals, who make up the highest risk group like individuals over the age of 65 and obese individuals find it difficult to participate in such an event, which requires them to ride a bike. Hence it is recommended here, that methods such as providing exercise bikes at the venue and giving individuals the option to walk instead of cycling, will help to increase participation levels.
In conclusion it can be stated that the Heart and Stroke foundation has been doing an impressive job at planning and organizing the 'Ride for the Heart' event, which has been broadly modeled to be similar to the 'Run for the Cure', However unlike the 'Run for the Cure' event, which allows a large number of individuals to participate, the 'Ride for the Cure' due to the nature of the event (requiring participants to ride bikes), leaves out a large segment of the population. Most often than not the segment of the population that is left out from this event, are the very individuals who are at the highest risk of disease (older individuals, obese individuals etc). Therefore the foundation should seek methods through which it can allow the participation of such individuals in its event.
This is a booklet that gives the rider's in the event an overview of the event, the map of the ride and all other relevant information.
Ride Safe Kit
This is a one page brochure that gives the rider's information on all the safety precautions they need to take.