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“CHARITY: - When the feeling’s gone and you can’t go on ….”

When you or a loved one experiences cancer, it’s only natural that you may wish to donate to a charity. But what about when you want to donate by selling your product?

Businesses large and small do this and some 10 years ago ‘The Silk Rags Project’ wanted to do the same. We thought it would be simple: get permission, put a charity logo on the product and donate a percentage per sale.

How wrong we were.

The whole experience opened our eyes to the world of charities, how differently they can be run and, as a business – how NOT to get burnt. It's fair to point out that we were perhaps rather naive at the time.

What we learned was that logo licensing on products by cancer charities - also known as Cause Related Marketing is a legitimate marketing and fundraising method. Some charities ask for payment for use of their logo by other businesses who are wanting to use the power of the charity logo and association with the cause to sell more of products. This ensures that charities are renumerated fairly for an association with their brand. We didn’t understand this at the time and after approaching a couple of charities and we learned that the use of charity logos on our products and marketing would attract fees that we unfortunately could not afford. It stung at the time and needed resilience from us to finally achieve our dream. We wanted to support a charity that understood our passion to educate people about how to communicate with someone who has a cancer diagnosis and would support us with our fundraising endeavours.

In this blog, we’re sharing our experience to explain why we chose to donate 38% of our proceeds to the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF).


“SPICKS AND SPECKS": - The important bits of our story

This is the story of us: Dee and Briohne. Separately, whilst going through our own breast cancer treatments, we wrote a soundtrack and a play about the experience. Put together, they now form the fundraising educational experience ‘The Silk Rags Project’. But this part of our story starts just before we met.

In 2010, Dee had successfully negotiated with ABC Australia to have her soundtrack physical CD sold in each shop and via their website. It was also available digitally on iTunes and Amazon to buy (pre-streaming days) and she was searching for a charity to donate 10% of profit to.

Composer - Dee Handyside signs distribution into ABC shops

Having breast cancer on her mind every day, Dee was well aware of the abundance of charities with pink logos, and wanted to donate to one of them. She was very conscious of the use of charity logo’s and colours being placed on products whether it be in shops, websites or at markets etc. Knowing that she couldn’t compete with the ‘big companies’,

Dee had accepted that it wouldn’t make a million dollars, but she was proud of her achievements so far and felt that donations, no matter how small, would still make a difference.


"I'VE GOTTA GET A MESSAGE TO YOU": The creation of our mini-musical

Scriptwriter - Briohne Sykes

Fast forward a couple of years, and Briohne had written and published her play. It had won several awards and been successfully performed across SE Queensland gaining good reviews and starting important conversations about the Big C.

Briohne and her cast decided to stage a fundraising performance, incorporating an afternoon tea and they would donate proceeds to a cancer charity. Dee performed some songs and both the script and album worked together well. At the end of the performance, Briohne and Dee received an audience question about how to communicate with a friend who had just received a cancer diagnosis. As communication strategies are at the heart of the performance, they then decided to combine their art pieces and ’The Silk Rags Project’ was born!

Based on Dee’s research, Briohne & Dee decided to donate 38% of our proceeds to Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) and here are the reasons why…..


"NO JIVE TALKIN'": No middle-man. No bling. And the personalised touch

Let’s start with why ACRF are so different.

1. They are financially savvy. Founded in 1984 by the late Sir Peter Abeles and the late Lady Sonia McMahon who wanted to leave a lasting legacy and significantly impact cancer research.

2. They are the “91 percenters”. Over the past 5 years ACRF’s grants to fund technology, equipment and infrastructure for cancer researchers equals 91% of total fundraising income (Source: ACRF’s 2021 Annual Report).

3. They only focus on backing brilliant Cancer Research projects. Australian institutes, hospitals and universities can apply for research into all types of cancer with a focus on detection prevention and/or treatment. ACRF has a stringent assessment involving independent experts, Medical Research Advisory Committee and Board of Trustees.

4. They don’t have a website shop. They don’t sell charity t-shirts, badges, socks and 'bling’. Instead they have a donate button – getting straight to the point.

5. They are supportive of our fundraising and provide us with a fundraising authority so that we can show that we are approved to fundraise for them.

6. They have low overheads, and their cost of fundraising is low. This means they can provide more grant funds backing brilliant cancer research. For instance, ACRF gave initial seed funding to Professor Ian Frazer’s research into the cervical cancer (HPV) vaccine. Over 400 million doses of the vaccine have been delivered worldwide to date.

7. They say THANK YOU personally. And they invite their donors to openings of new research centres including personal tours. Best of all, they talk to you about their projects in layman’s terms – you don’t have to be a scientist to understand what they are achieving.

But most of all, they believe and encourage us. We may be small, and we may not have a national reach (yet!), but ACRF realise our dream, our potential and appreciate our efforts to get there.


At the end of the day We're part of their "CHAIN REACTION" and you can be too!

  1. Why not take a look at their website?

  2. Check out their financial savviness here - they share their reports.

  3. Compare them against other charities at the Australian Charities and Non for Profits Commission website.

Whilst you are at it, check out our products and remember that we donate 38% of proceeds of sales to ACRF. The Silk Rags Project provides you with an educational reading and listening experience so that you are able to personally help your friend who receives a cancer diagnosis. You'll laugh, cry and learn.

Plus, we donate a massive 38% of our proceeds to them on every sale. This means for every $50 spent with us - we will donate $19.03 directly to ACRF to back brilliant cancer research. Knowledge lasts much longer than a t shirt with a logo.

Check us out and share this blog with others who may have a product that they want to be affiliated with a charity.

And do feel free to leave a comment below. Have you had a similar experience, and will this article make you think any differently?


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