Independent burn foundation and support organizations exist throughout the United States. These organizations are valuable resources, and help support local/regional advancement of fire safety and burn prevention education, burn survivor and family services, and/or clinical burn care and research.
Nonprofit Burn Foundations
Purpose of Nonprofit Burn Foundations
The purpose (mission) of nonprofit burn support organizations, often referred to as Foundations, Institutes, Networks or Funds, vary from organization to organization. Typically, they share a commitment to provide burn injury prevention education to and advocacy for those at greatest risk. For many, that advocacy will include support services for burn survivors and their families, burn camps, coordination of youth fire misuse intervention programs and financial support of regional burn centers.
Federation of Burn Foundations
The Federation of Burn Foundations (FBF) is a membership-based nonprofit organization whose purpose is to empower burn organizations to better serve their communities through:
- Communication and information exchange among member organizations
- Promotion and public policy beneficial to burn prevention, care research and/or burn survivors
- Liaisons with other organizations with similar or compatible purposes
- Enhancing the capabilities of members by promoting and assisting in the development of best practices for burn foundations
Burn support organizations may join the Federation of Burn Foundations by applying at www.fbfonline.net
Burn Foundations & Fire Fighters
Purpose of Fire Fighter Burn Foundations
Generally, the purpose of a fire fighter burn foundation is to prevent burns and improve the quality of life for burn survivors through programs, education and research. A focus of that purpose is oftentimes dedicated to assisting in the recovery and rehabilitation of injured fire fighters and burn survivors.
International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Charitable Foundation's Burn Fund
The International Association of Fire Fighters is made up of 16 districts. Each District has a District Burn Coordinator who works under the direction of his/her District Vice President and the Director of the IAFF Charitable Foundation's Burn Fund. The District Burn Coordinators function as the local point of contact for all things related to the Burn Fund.
Starting a Burn Foundation
Frequently, individuals are inspired to start a nonprofit to help serve their community. Starting and sustaining a nonprofit are not easy tasks, but can become essential means to helping others. The National Council of Nonprofits’ (NCNP) website provides a step-by-step guide to starting a nonprofit, including the filings to complete at the federal and state level, and the standard policies and procedures that a new nonprofit will want to have in place.
Consult with local expertise (e.g., either an attorney, accountant, or someone very familiar with tax-exempt law and how charitable organizations operate in your state) to ensure that the new nonprofit complies with state and local requirements, as well as federal laws. Read the information shared by the NCNP in all five steps before making a decision to start a nonprofit. Familiarize yourself with state-specific resources and find out what opportunities are available through the local state association of nonprofits.
Some fire fighter-based burn foundations are governed by their local union, association or a group of fire fighters that have an interest in helping their local burn community. Some are associated with their local burn unit and members of the medical community that may serve on their Board. A Board of Directors is required if you want to maintain accountability with your donors and community.
Fundraising and Tax Codes
When starting a burn foundation, you should contact the IRS or seek legal assistance to help with set-up in terms of tax code. Each country and state may have specific guidelines around fundraising within their jurisdiction.
There are a number of local, regional and national organizations that actively support fire safety, burn prevention and families affected by fire and burns. A collaboration with these organizations could be very useful and cost effective.
Notable among these organizations are:
- Phoenix Society (PSBS) – Founded in 1977, the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors is the leading national nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering anyone affected by a burn injury.
- American Burn Association (ABA) – The American Burn Association and its members dedicate their efforts and resources to promoting and supporting burn-related research, education, care, rehabilitation and prevention. The ABA has more than 3,500 members in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia and Latin America. Members include physicians, nurses, occupational and physical therapists, researchers, social workers, psychologists, dietitians, health educators, those involved in support services, fire fighters and hospitals with burn centers. Its multidisciplinary membership enhances its ability to work toward common goals with other organizations on educational programs.
- National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) – The National Fire Protection Association is a global nonprofit organization, established in 1896, devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. NFPA delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering its mission. NFPA membership totals more than 60,000 individuals around the world.
- International Association of Burn Camps (IABC) – The IABC started as a special-interest group of the American Burn Association, and expanded to provide additional support services. It provides educational opportunities to members at the annual meeting of the ABA and at a biannual Burn Camp Workshop. Additionally, the IABC offers assistance to burn camps in the form of guidance, mentoring and best practices. The IABC has established guidelines for best practice in Burn Camp Programming and should be used in conjunction with the American Camping Association Standards.
Effective burn prevention requires building partnerships among burn centers, fire departments, EMS providers, hospitals and foundations. By building these partnerships, organizations can expand their reach and make a more effective use of each partner’s resources.
Special Considerations in Building Partnerships:
- Determine the need for organization/agency partnerships, keeping in mind the demographic being served.
- Set goals with how to best affect results.
- Research, assist and support organizations that may already be working on achieving identified goals.
- Establish a foundation, if needed.
- Evaluate existing organizations and assess the need for new board members, volunteers, financial resources, or programs.
- Establish a realistic plan for your organization to actively participate in an established partnership or coalition.
- Get to know the people involved in each area of burn care. These partnerships can help raise funds for education and outreach programs in the community. There are many potential partners in burn care, including: burn centers, fire departments, associations and member organizations, charitable foundations and organizations in under-served communities.
- The best outcomes are achieved when everyone involved clearly understands the role of each party in caring for injured patients in the short- and long-term. Once the relationships are formed and the players trust each other, collaboration is likely to spread beyond direct care to include outreach, prevention and support for each other’s fundraising activities.
Benefits of Working Together
Building and maintaining good relationships among hospital administrators, burn care staff, fire fighters and EMS personnel is extremely beneficial in the overall outcome of burn survivors. All parties gain the ability to build structure and standards of communication that help facilitate care. The fire service and medical professionals each have care protocols, procedures and/or regulations that must be followed.
- Provides achievable medical, recovery goals and expectations for patients, including injured fire fighters, family and the fire community.
- Develops joint programs with fundraising for benefiting the hospital, and fire fighter or other foundations.
- Offers improved patient experiences during hospitalization and clinic aftercare.
- Improves communication and promotes a positive burn treatment experience through relationships.
- Facilitates fundraising to support aftercare programs: adult and children’s camps/retreats, Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery (SOAR) support programs Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors (PSBS), scholarships to state and national conferences addressing burn care, and continuing education for burn nurses and fire fighters.
- Provides research funds for all parties involved in burn care, rehabilitation and prevention.
- Provides funds to the hospital for needed burn unit equipment and programs.
- Supports and advocates for national standards of the medical care for burn injured individuals, including fire fighters.
- Improves participation in the national injury outcome data.
- Supports outreach for burn awareness and prevention education in the community.
Tips for Forming Relationships
Some organizations are fortunate enough to already have strong relationships with community partners, while others may need to introduce themselves before they can build these relationships and partnerships. Here are a few tips to start forming these important relationships:
- Organization staff already knows and works with people from a wide variety of organizations and disciplines. Take a step back and consider existing relationships and how to partner in new initiatives.
- Consider inviting known colleagues from other organizations to meet. Ask them how their organization works, and what challenges they have in working with burn patients.
- Remember to build and reinforce relationships within your own organization.
- When building a completely new relationship, consider who should make the initial contact. Should someone with rank, more authority or status reach out to a peer in a different organization?
- Do your homework before the meeting. Develop an agenda of what you want to cover, and bring appropriate materials to support your proposal.