Wednesday, 1 June 2016


Words: Dave Woodhouse, Rotary Club of Tauranga Sunrise, NZ
Surely what must be one of the simplest and yet most effective ways of raising awareness and fundraising is the Savealife Rotary project which is administered by the Rotary Club of Tauranga Sunrise, NZ.
It all started in 2015 when two enterprising Rotarians, John Dentice and Brian Rickard from Palmerston North, NZ saw an opportunity for selling capsule keyrings. The big difference was that each capsule was to contain a 300mg soluble aspirin which could be used if someone was experiencing signs of a heart attack. The simple act of chewing that aspirin, or having it dissolve if placed under the tongue, may help to keep that person alive for up to what the paramedics call 'The Golden Hour' - that being the time between having the attack and the paramedics arriving on the scene and transporting the patient to hospital. John and Brian explored all the aspects of this idea and soon had the backing of medical consultants.
All the components were sourced, the capsules were filled and bagged and the big sell began! Pretty soon, it became obvious that this idea was going to be bigger than they imagined and, after a fortuitous meeting at a trade show with Rotary Club of Tauranga Sunrise President Ron Fyfe, a collaboration was deemed necessary in order to roll out the project to a wider network. Thus, Tauranga Sunrise Rotary took over the national distribution of the capsules (originally named ‘Lifesavers’, subsequently re-branded to 'Savealife').
The early days were tentative as we tested the market and introduced three different selling tiers:
Retail :                $NZ4 (No minimum)
Retailers:             $3 (100 minimum)
Rotary clubs:      $2 (100 minimum)
All prices include Goods and Services Tax (GST)
It quickly became apparent that the best way to publicise the project was to encourage other Rotary clubs to take over distribution for their respective areas by whatever means they saw fit, thereby making a $2 profit on each one they sell at retail level. The tiered selling also allowed for clubs to make a $1 profit if they on sold to retailers.
Rotary clubs in District 9930 joined in initially and then the word got round, so we started getting enquiries from clubs further afield. We also saw a niche market which gave the opportunity for enterprising companies to purchase the capsules as a corporate giveaway with their own logo and contact details – for this we charge a $1 per unit premium. 
Website was launched with further information on the project and a contact form.
Orders soon started rolling in, especially with companies seeing the value of being part of such a caring and potentially life-saving project. Pdf images are always supplied for approval prior to manufacture.
Home shows, women's expos and other trade shows were very successful, with very few refusals, so the next stage was to run a newspaper promotion. The publishers needed no encouragement to feature the capsules on pages 1,2 and 3 of their free edition Bay of Plenty Times and orders followed thick and fast. A call by one of our founding members to the Newstalk ZB radio studio (following a feature on defibrillators) saw enquiries from all over New Zealand and further afield.
Our mission statement is to encourage as many people to have a Savealife capsule on their keyring. It is perhaps surprising – and not a little scary – that we are receiving regular reports and stories of people who had had to use their capsule. Incidentally, each sale is accompanied by a purse or wallet sized card which gives all details in relation to procedure, not the least of which is checking for the existence of a MedicAlert medical identity bracelet or necklace and, of course, to dial 111 emergency service. In the vast majority of cases, the paramedics have asked the caller, “Does anyone have an aspirin with them?”
As a club, we feel that we are only just scratching the surface of this great fundraiser, especially as ALL the profit that we make goes back into the community and even after the first eight months, this is proving to be a significant sum, so we encourage any other clubs to contact us to help fulfil our dream while saving lives.
Internationally, there is the opportunity for our Rotarian friends across the Tasman to participate and, whilst we are not able to export filled with aspirin capsules, we are actively seeking national distribution partners to work towards a mutually beneficial end.
Interested? For more information, please contact Savealife Project Coordinator Dave Woodhouse via +64 27 513 2345 or email
Is $4 a fair price to pay for the potential of saving a life?  We think so.