Starlight Children’s Foundation has a bold vision to significantly scale our impact and brighten the lives of more seriously ill children. To achieve this we needed to become an organisation that’s smart, agile and mobile, and be able to connect with our community more deeply – data, technology and a partnership with Salesforce has made this possible.

For 30 years, Starlight Children’s Foundation (Starlight) has been replacing the pain, fear and stress of hospitalisation with fun, joy and laughter. Going to hospital can be frightening for a child. They are away from all that is familiar to them and it’s easy for them to get lost in their illness. Parents and siblings are often anxious and exhausted.

Starlight steps in to brighten the lives of seriously ill children and their families using the power of positive psychology and distraction. Through our unique programs – Starlight Express Rooms, Captain Starlight, Livewire, Starlight Wishes and Healthier Futures Initiative – we positively disrupt this challenging time, helping seriously ill children simply be kids again. For parents and families, they enjoy the relief of seeing their child smile again and a chance to have fun as a family away from all things medical. 

Laying the foundation for scale


Four years ago, we knew that to scale our impact and reach more families, we needed to embrace technological change. Our traditional IT systems, which were quite disparate and inflexible, were already struggling to keep up with our mission and certainly weren’t capable of supporting two-fold growth. So, we partnered with Salesforce and embarked on a journey of digital transformation, evolving our organisation and implementing a modern, connected digital platform.

One of the crucial components of our transformation was consolidating our fragmented data into a single view of our community, enabling us to interact with individuals – whether that be an ill child, an affected family member, a donor or volunteer – in a more personal and meaningful way.

Another of our key transformation objectives has been to build consistent and replicable processes that eliminate manual tasks and allow staff to work smarter, freeing us up to make a more meaningful impact on the lives of sick children and their families.

In this video, learn more about the Starlight story, and how we’re blazing trails to scale our mission and bring joy to the lives of more families:


The path to digital transformation success


I’m pleased to say that we have doubled our scale and impact since 2014 – now bringing joy to over half a million children a year. And while the journey isn't over (the need for our programs continues to grow), we believe there are seven key factors that have driven our success so far:

  1. The power of the ecosystem – there’s a lot of upside from working with a platform that has an ecosystem of developers and communities you can lean on for support.

  2. Less is more (to start with)digital transformations are difficult. You have a complex data migration to do, the remodelling of processes, internal change management – and the outcome needs to be great. We gave ourselves the best shot of demonstrating immediate success by initially doing less, really well.

  3. Get the data right – you’re not going to be able to create great processes unless you've got great data, so this has to be a priority from the start. It also paves the way for connected and free-flowing data down the track.

  4. Start with good practices – it’s easy to get excited and tear ahead with your transformation, but if you haven’t laid a strong foundation it gets incrementally more difficult to fix it the further along you get.

  5. Show, not tell – our transformation journey was a little like Tetris, with a progressive roll-out. We went live at the end of 2014 with our core functionality – CRM, collaboration tools, wish granting management, income processing and monthly donor management. Then 2015 was dedicated to low-hanging fruit (the likes of event registrations and purchase orders); 2016 to improving programs and communications; and 2017 about creating new processes. And, we still have more ambitious projects planned for 2018 and beyond.

  6. Organisational alignment – there has to be an unwavering focus on your mission and purpose, and every person in the organisation needs to understand their role in achieving it.

  7. Culture is key – having a change-ready, positive work culture makes a big difference in these projects. If you're going to be a Trailblazer, somethings won't work and people need to be ok with that – if everything works, you're not trying hard enough.

How data is making our Starlight Express Rooms more impactful


One of our core programs at Starlight Children’s Foundation is the Starlight Express Rooms, which we have in every children's hospital in Australia. Run by Captain Starlight, they’re a safe, fun place where medical issues aren’t discussed and kids can just be kids.

Part of our digital transformation was overhauling the check-in process for the Starlight Express Rooms. Now when a child arrives they check-in via a tablet or if they’re a frequent visitor they get a card to tap on. All of that data then comes straight into our CRM via an API and displayed internally in dashboards. So in real-time we can see how many children are in a Starlight Express Room, where they’re from, how old they are, etc, which helps us optimise on the operational side.

This data also allows us to see which hospital wards children are coming from and, more importantly, where they’re not. Using this insight, Captain Starlight can go out and target those underrepresented wards, increasing the utilisation of the Starlight Express Rooms and improving the impact of our program.

Starlight Children’s Foundation is a Trailblazer


Being a Trailblazer is incredibly important in this day and age. We all know that what we were doing yesterday is not what we need to be doing tomorrow to get where we need to go. We know that things are changing and we need to be actively seeking out that change, causing that change and disruption, and embracing it for the opportunity it holds.

Be a Trailblazer and seize the opportunity that disruption brings. Download the We Are All Trailblazers e-book.