WITH a greater demand for Soldier On services than what the charity can provide, fundraising champion Ivan Slavich has been appointed its new CEO to turn it around.
“The reality is we need more money to deliver our services,” says Ivan, 55, of O’Malley, who started as Soldier On’s new CEO on Monday, September 30.
“My big focus is going to be raising money for Soldier On so we can meet the demand for services because they’re not being met.”
Ivan, who’s well-known for his leading positions at companies such as TransACT Communications, ActewAGL, PARASOL and Energy Action, is not a stranger when it comes to charity work.
“If I think back on my corporate career, I’ve been in a lot of high-profile, high-pressure jobs, but the part of each role that I’ve enjoyed the most is fundraising,” he says.
In the past Ivan’s notably raised more than $100,000 for Camp Quality (and still continues to do so) and was the world’s best Movember fundraiser in 2012 for the money he raised during the campaign.
And while he admits he didn’t grow the best moustache he says he still became the world fundraising champ after raising $65,000 on his own while he was the CEO of TransACT.
“I get so much personal satisfaction out of charity work,” he says.
“There’s so many great causes out there. I like to get involved in charities that really resonate with me like children’s charities, Movember, because of men’s health and Soldier On because of my respect for our serving personnel and people who have served.”
The inspiration for Ivan to take on the job at Soldier On and raise money for the charity comes from his own background as a commissioned officer of the Australian Army Reserve, where he served for six years with OCTU and 23 Field Regiment.
“I’ve had an interest in Defence and homeland security from a young age,” he says.
“I’ve always admired our defence personnel because it’s really the ultimate sacrifice.
“You’re putting your life in danger and in harm’s way to protect the ethics of what the nation stands for – of democracy and freedom.
“These people are willing to put their lives on the line in defence of our freedom.”
Now, Ivan wants to help give something to the service people who have given so much to the nation.
He wants to begin Soldier On’s fundraising strongly with its upcoming campaign “Stronger Together” in November, which will involve people arm wrestling for donations.
“All the donations that come in are matched by corporate dollars,” he says.
“And the money will go into the services that we provide to our vets.”
Ivan’s also looking at putting in place a signature fundraising event run by Soldier On and he’s already been blown away by the number of people who have offered to help.
He can’t say much else yet, but he’s looking to head a month-long event in the lead up to Anzac Day.
“I want to make it really big,” he says.
When it comes to fundraising, Ivan wants to see a lot of people getting behind them and making a combined effort.
“About 290,000 men and women have served in the armed forces since 1990,” he says.
“If you take into account the average family unit, which is about three and a half people, it means there’s been about a million people nationally that have had some sort of connection to these service people.”
And unfortunately, Ivan says Soldier On isn’t meeting demand.
“We need help from the Australian public,” he says.
“I’m also calling upon philanthropists to give me a call if they have an interest in this area.
“There’s so many really good charities out there. I often get asked why do you do what you do?
“If you’ve had it pretty good in life, then why not?
“A lot of people do charity work because they’ve experienced or know someone with cancer or health issues but I want to call out people who have had good lives and get them to help, too.”
While Ivan admits he has a lot to learn, like anyone in a new job, he says he’s had a huge positive response when he announced his new venture with Soldier On.
“I’ve been really shocked at the positive response from people when I was appointed to this role,” he says.
“I know Soldier On is an important organisation but I didn’t realise how much it resonates in the community.
“The community really relates to Soldier On. I want to take Soldier On to the next level using my corporate connections and my business skills.
“I want to meet this unmet demand.”