Devon Air Ambulance is a large and complex organisation; as well as running 19 shops and supporting fundraisers throughout the county, we operate a commercial airline that is heavily regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority and a Care Quality Commission registered ambulance service.  

As an organisation with important responsibilities towards our patients, donors, volunteers, supporters, staff and the public, we recognise the importance of accountability and transparency in all aspects of our work.  We cannot achieve this without excellent administration driving informed decision-making and continual improvements while mitigating risks.  

We highly value our 600+ volunteers who work in all sorts of areas but the complexity of our work means that we also have to recruit and retain exceptional paid staff in order to safeguard every aspect of our operations.  

Just as we must pay competitive salaries to attract the best pilots, paramedics or doctors, we also want the best staff to look after our funds and ensure we run our organisation as efficiently as possible so that we maximise the amount of money we spend on services or are able to save towards big future expenses like replacement aircraft.  

We cannot comply with the stringent legal and regulatory requirements we must meet, guarantee cost effectiveness and protection of our assets, including all the funds raised by the community and donors, without support services like accountancy, IT support and facilities management.  We need competent people to ensure the accountability required of us as well as good quality management that the public expects of us.  It is not realistic to expect to be able to attract a highly experienced qualified accountant to work for minimum wage or for free, any more than it is to expect a pilot to do so.  

Devon Air Ambulance exists to make a difference to patients’ lives.  This is only possible thanks to tens of thousands of transactions. Every donation must be monitored, recorded and accounted for, each of over 4,000 collection boxes must be regularly emptied, counted, banked and accounted for, each individual £1 played by over 30,000 people each week in the lottery and every penny raised by the hundreds of community events and activities that support us must be accounted for.  Funds donated across a number of different online giving sites must be identified and matched to the right donor and the right event.  Every gift aid claim must be checked to ensure it is correct and valid.  Every single sale in each of the shops must be accounted for.  Our accounts are independently audited annually and we must demonstrate that we have robust systems and processes in place to capture all of this, meet our statutory requirements and safeguard our funds from the risk of fraud and cyber attack.

Our overall support costs are less than 5.5%, largely due to our investment in these systems and processes, which means we have more funds available for both current operating costs and future investments such as the new helicopter arriving in 2020.  We believe this is money prudently spent to ensure our patients get the best possible benefit from the funds provided by all our supporters.  Put simply, if we weren’t as professional in our support functions as we are in flight operations and patient services we would be much less efficient and face much greater risk of funds being misspent, lost or stolen.