Brain surgeon Charlie Teo has left the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation to set up his own charity. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Brain surgeon Charlie Teo has left the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation to set up his own charity. Picture: Jonathan Ng

Top surgeon Teo takes scalpel to charities

REBEL neurosurgeon Charlie Teo has quit the brain cancer charity he founded after "spitting the dummy" over the amount of donations soaked up by administration costs.

Professor Teo is setting up a new low-cost charity which aims to slash the proportion of donations spent on administration, marketing, advertising and staff from 65 per cent to 10 or 15 per cent.

The globally renowned surgeon said yesterday he wanted to shake up Australia's $100 billion charity ­industry to ensure that most of the donated monies were spent directly on research and patient care.

Brain surgeon Charlie Teo: “The whole charity field needs to be disrupted.” Picture: Jonathan Ng
Brain surgeon Charlie Teo: “The whole charity field needs to be disrupted.” Picture: Jonathan Ng

Prof Teo, 60, established the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation in 2003 but fell out with the leadership over the size of its overheads and eight weeks ago began preparations to launch a rival.

"Expenses were running at 65 per cent which was unacceptable and I gave them an ultimatum to improve it," he said.

"But it did not improve and I spat the dummy and said I would walk unless they brought them (expenses) down) - the board let me go but it was my decision to go."

Cure Brain Cancer Foundation chief executive Michelle Stewart said its costs were "in-line with similar charities and are carefully budgeted at 15 per cent to ­deliver maximum impact".

"These costs allow us to operate the organisation and provide good governance to ensure more money goes towards increasing brain cancer survival," she said.

"We do much more than just raise money and fund ­research. We invest in research strategy, advocacy and awareness which has sparked a national movement to give tens of thousands of people a strong voice.

"This advocacy and awareness was a driving force ­behind a new landmark $100 million national brain cancer plan ... to rapidly increase brain cancer survival.

"Over the last five years, we have invested more than $13 million into world-class ­research as part of our ­research strategy."

Cure Brain Cancer Foundation chief executive Michelle Stewart.
Cure Brain Cancer Foundation chief executive Michelle Stewart.

The foundation said Prof Teo and it were "taking different strategic directions in the ongoing search for a cure for brain cancer".

Prof Teo's new charity, The Charlie Teo Foundation, has applied for charitable status in preparation for a formal launch in March next year.

It aims to raise $100 million a year to boost the fight against brain cancer which "kills more children than any other disease".

Major corporates, including health supplements company Blackmores and Jaycar Electronics, have signed on as supporters and Prof Teo said 26 chief executives from the private sector would provide expertise on a voluntary basis.

The new foundation has been offered the use of premises at Rosebery free of charge by Industrie Clothing.

"We are operating with just two-and-half staff and I would like to keep expenses to no more than 10 per cent or 15 per cent," he said.

"The whole charity field needs to be disrupted and I want to take a lead in that so that people donating have an assurance the majority of their money is going to the cause and not to the running of the charity."



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