Volunteering, Why?

Why do people volunteer? There’s a myriad of reasons people opt to volunteer in their community.

The reason can range from giving something back to the community, giving time to an organisation that has helped them either personally or may have offered assistance to a family member.

Others volunteer to feel valued and part of a community; or to perhaps learn new skills.

There are cases where people may be directed to offer service in the community; often this is something ordered by a court. However, there are also times when a person who is receiving a form of Government assistance (benefit) may be asked to give time to a community organisation; in this instance, it is more than likely so as the person can gain a new skill and to add something to their CV.

I have even heard that some people volunteer as a way to do something different, to give them a break from their job. There’s some in this group who volunteer to bring their business/career skills to an organisation (pro bono).

Some people volunteer because they feel alone in their life, so a chance to volunteer gives them the chance to meet new people and a chance to socialise. And, if they are new to an area it allows them the chance to get to know others in their community.

Volunteering has been seen too as a way to improve on mental and physical well being.

Do you volunteer, if you do why?

Old Pugilist beat up

It’s not often I rant about an issue per se here, but after reading what Bob Jones had to say in the media yesterday (Tuesday 17 Jan 2017) I just can’t hold my tongue, or should that be my fingers.

Bob Jones, said in a report to media, as reported in the NZHerald that homeless people were essentially scum and worthless lazy buggers, sadly he doesn’t understand the reality and perhaps before he rants he should take timeout and sat and talked with some of the people sitting on streets asking for money.

I’ve spent many an hour speaking with homeless and beggars, not all homeless are beggars and not all beggars are homeless, they each have their own reason (story) for why they are where they are.

People like Bob Jones, and others who only want to moan, rant and say that people sitting on streets asking for money are scum and, more recently that begging should be banned, need to get their arses off their leather seats, and walk a mile (ok, a few metres) in the shoes of some people living off the street.

Unless we understand the whys of why people are living on and “off” the street then we can truly know what’s happening and how we can help.

We can all help, even if it is simply saying hello – don’t judge lest thee be judged.

There are people living on the streets who want to work, but because they don’t have a fixed address they can’t get jobs, because they haven’t been able to get a job for a few years they can’t get a job … drugs and alcohol are not the only reason, race is certainly an issue, but not the issue they are where they are at, the reason they are where they are at where they are is because of their race .. sadly we are still a racist country.

Yes, I’m angry, I’m angry because people like Bob Jones get to vent about people less fortunate but less fortunate people don’t have a voice, we need to be their voice, we need to sit and listen to them, to hear their stories and help where we can, they’ve been beaten down enough..

We need, nay, we must help lift those in need, we need to put our hands out, open our hearts do what we can to help.

 

 

 

Is there Competition in Sponsorships, Collaborations?

Something that I’ve been pondering (again) and something that was recently raised with me was the issue of whether you can have more than one sponsor for your organisation from the same “industry”?

I recall a few years ago when an organisation I was doing some work with had an approach from a professional service provider who wanted to get on board and help the organisation, but as there was already a sponsor from the same profession the CEO and Board were hesitant to accept the offer.

The company made several calls, sent numerous emails and eventually they were invited in for a meeting to further discuss what they wanted to offer; when it was suggested to them that their “competitor” was already a sponsor, all eyes lit up. Not the charity’s, but the reps from the business. They could see an opportunity, not selfishly, just an opportunity that could work toward something more favourable for the charity.

Eventually the company’s offer of support was accepted and they produced a great service offering to the charity and those who were benefiting from the work of the services provided by the charity – it was a win win.

A further win was when the two “competing” companies met at a black tie dinner and discussed how they could work together to further enhance the work of the charity.

They started working together to build on the work of the charity, they developed a new funding model and – they laid down a challenge to one another, an annual sports challenge between the two companies. This raised significant funds for the charity, raised morale within the two companies and created other opportunities.

So, to cut a long story short, don’t shut the door on an offer of support until you have sat and carefully looked at the offer from all angles. There’s more than likely positives to come from having “competition” in your sponsorship ranks.

More Reason for Transperancy

​Seeing the item in the NZ Herald about the Halberg Trust  just reinforces that even more transperancy is needing in the charity sector.

There’s no denying that the amount of money raised, versus amounts distrubuted, used, will be different – there will be operational costs. 

But when people see high operational costs versus distributions they will be concerned, ask questions and want answers; real answers not just some lip service.

It’s time, nah, it’s long overdue for organisations to be more open about their income v expenditures, they can’t simply leave it until people ask questions; all this does is raise more quesions, not only of the organisation concerned, but of the sector as a whole.

Looks Like a Charity Beat Up

A New Plymouth (New Zealand) charity – Roderique Hope Trust which provides emergency housing has recently leased a property to house people in urgent need of housing. But, this doesn’t seem to have gone down too well with others who have properties on the street.

One person, who’s daughter has a property on the street, has apparently threatened to sue if the value of her property decreases because of the Trust providing accommodation.

How can this be ok to even think about? As one person who commented on the item on Stuff.co.nz has said, “Do the residents of the street vet ALL people buying or renting in “their” street?  I bet they don’t!   How do they know that “that sort of person” became homeless due to accident, illness, redundancy or other reasons, and are perfectly respectable people?   This looks like a severe case of Nimby-ism”. This commenter is right in his/her thinking.

All too often we see community organisations taking action to help others in the community only to face a backlash, this time it seems as though the threat of legal action is only one part of the potential backlash, but it also seems that this could be a media beat up.

It would appear that Roderique Hope Trust have tried to keep the local residents informed, the fact that a meeting was planned for a long weekend is perhaps not a good thing, although it wasn’t organised by the Trust; but whoever organised it should have taken into account that some “players” wouldn’t be available.

We need organisations like Roderique Hope Trust helping in the emergency housing area, but we run the risk of others taking a step back if threats such as the one in this article are made to other providers.

Let’s hope there’s a good outcome to this and that the Trust moves ahead with their plan, it would seem that the owner of the property has no issues, only a handful of local residents who seem to feel they have been left out of discussions.

Let’s hope common sense prevails.

 

 

 

 

 

Changes are Afoot

​Non-Profits Being Hit

Seems that times are a changing for non-profits, we’ve heard recently that budgeting services have had funding cuts, now we’re hearing that other social agencies will have to ”disclose” details about the people they assit in order to maintain funding levels.

Some of the changes may not appear too bad, with some explanation being for the changes being that it is a way to help reduce operational, backroom costs; something that is perhaps needed. But is a heavy handed approach, as these changes seem to be, the way to go?

There’s no denying that there are duplication of services being provided within the non-profit sector, with each competing for a slice of the funding pie.

If there are several organisations working in the same space, it would make sense where possible for them to work closer to help reduce oerational costs. And, yes, there are organisations now working more closely to help reduce overall costs, but more could still be done.

When it comes to disclosure of client information, names, addresses, gender etc, this becomes worrying. 

With some organisations assisting vunerable people being asked to provide such personal information in order to gain or maintain funding it screams of Big Brother.

What’s wrong with the way things have done previously, a summary of clients assisted seems to have worked well. 

What will Government agencies use the personal information for?

How will clients, particularly those who are vulnerable, victims of crime etc react, will it cause some to not seek help out of fear of their personal information being misused (lost)?

Will your organisation be affected by these changes?

If you support organisations that maybe affected by these changes, will this have any impact on your continued support?

Questions need to be asked of Government agencies as to what are the REAL purposes of these changes?

A Few Things to Consider

We all want to know that the organisation we are supporting, or wanting to support is doing good, that it is meeting it’s goals, reaching the people it is there to help. But, it’s not always the case, some organisations aren’t meeting targets and are only scratching the surface.

How can we check if the one we are looking at supporting is worth sending money to?

There’s a few things to look at, sure there’s a search of the Charity Register, but this is only a superficial look at their income, expenses and a check that they’re complying with what they are set up to do. In essence the report you will find on the Register is simply a declaration, it doesn’t show what the organisation has actually done.

An organisations website will give you the ”fluff” about who they support, what they do, but does it really give you an insight into who it really helps? Sure, there may be some testimonials from people it has helped, but in reality these are often hand picked to give the best picture of the work done.

If you are considering giving support, and particularly so if you are looking at a major contribution, a lifetime contribution or as a key sponsor to look deeper.

It is suggested that you find clients of the organisation and have a chat to them, don’t only talk to the people the organisation has suggested you talk to, but some how find others who have used the organisation. These are more likely to be more open about the support, service that they received.

When talking with previous, or current clients of an organisation you will soon see whether the support they received was beneficial, did it change their situation, are they better off. All of this will help you work out if this is the right organisation for you to support.

Another thing to look at, is the organisation meeting its goals? This can be a hard one to judge, but you should be able to find out by the chats you have with previous clients, by viewing the organisations annual report (not the one on the Charity Register but the main one that most publish these days.) Even a search on Google will likely give you insights into the impact the organisation is having, don’t forget too, that a search through their social media activity will likely also give some good insights.

Something I have seen people do when looking at supporting an organisation, is to look at what other organisations are working in the same space, and seeing if these have or intend to work together at some point. Remember, there’s many organisations doing the same or very similar things, could collaboration, merger be more beneficial to everyone. It’s something worth considering when making a decision to support.

Another thing I suggest people look at, is who is put first; the client, staff or donor? If it’s the staff then you need to ask why? If it’s the donor, same questions; in my opinion the client of an organisation should be the one who is put first, if they are not, then is it an organisation you want to support?

The Demise of the Charity Shop

With recent news that Save the Children will be closing their stores it’s timely to see what’s happening, what’s changed.

Save the Children, isn’t the first and it won’t be the last to close up shop.

At one time generous landlords gave organisations cheap rentals and even reduced other costs associated with renting shop space. This has changed with landlords now, in the main, charging market rents.

With market rents being charged organisations have had little choice but to no longer sell items for $1 or $2 dollars, but to increase some prices; sure there are still great bargains and, remember every purchase benefits the organisation no matter the price, even that five cent spoon purchase has a benefit.

There is, in my opinion, also been a growth in the number of organisation having a “retail” presence, this has created competition with people having more choice as to where they can shop for a bargain. Not unlike mainstream retail.

Sure, we will see fewer organisations with a retail presence, but they will continue to be there. Some will still sell items to raise funds, but this will likely be, as it is already, be online through the likes of TradeMe.

Others will start using other methods, social enterprise for one. With some organisations already looking at this as a means to raise funds with little, in some cases no overheads; yet still making use of donated items to create an income stream away from grants etc.

Disgruntled Board Member

We’ve all had them, or at least heard of them, they’re the one who always has a negative attitude, always has to be right, always needs to have the last word.

I stumbled across this on Nonprofit Quarterly and thought it worth sharing … perhaps it’s a little tongue in cheek, but it’s a good read nonetheless.

Dr. Conflict: About That %$@# Troublemaking Board Member…

Dear Dr. Conflict:

We have a former board member who left the board feeling that he had “lost” some kind of fight. Ours was not the only board that he left in this way—in fact, he told me about epic battles he had fought on this or that other board where people did not see the light (according to him). He was always the hero in these stories—the bringer of truth; the others were usually described as being motivated by self-interest of some kind. And, actually, he is very smart, but he is also a fire starter, and sometimes in ways that are hard to trace.

So here is my situation. This guy is quite connected vis-à-vis state agencies, and I believe, though I cannot say for certain, that he is having a negative effect on our funders. I get the sense that our relationship with some of the agencies with which we have major contracts has become less robust. Conversations are less open. It is confusing, but I think I do see a pattern.

How do I take such a thing on? What is the best way to proceed?

—Need a New Friend

 

Dear Need a New Friend,

You don’t just need a new friend—you need a posse. Dr. Conflict has seen people like your former board member many times before, but it’s not all his fault that he’s such a pain. It’s yours, too. Surely you knew about his epic battles before you recruited him? And if you didn’t, why not? What were you thinking, bringing this guy onto the board?

Some readers may say Dr. Conflict is talking to the wrong person. They believe the board alone is responsible for recruiting its members. But Dr. C sides with Robert Herman’s concept of executive centrality, wherein, “since chief executives are going to be responsible and since they accept responsibility for mission accomplishment and public stewardship, they should work to see that boards fulfill their legal, organizational, and public roles.”1 So Dr. Conflict holds you accountable for the mess you’re in.

Here are Dr. Conflict’s recommendations: (1) make sure that this sort of sloppy recruitment doesn’t happen again, and (2) deal with the renegade ex-board member by counterbalancing his message through your own robust advocacy effort.

Continue reading here

How do / would you handle situations like this?

 

 

What Makes a Charity a Charity

Talk to anyone in the street about charities and they’ll say “there’s too many” “I’m always being asked for money for something” – and that’s just from people who comment about the “visible” charities. Wait until you start talking about the Big Business Charities – the first to come to mind are Churches.

They’re registered as charities, have, in the main massive resources, they have charitable status which means they don’t pay taxes like you or I.

Then there’s the likes of Sanitarium which is exempt from paying tax on its business earnings, simply because it’s owned by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, which is a registered charity.

When Big Business, yes, Sanitarium is a business, is exempt from paying taxes on earnings, it can make people question whether this is making a mockery of the whole charity sector.

I could write screeds about this, but having stumbled across Kate Russell’s (no relation) piece on LinkedIn, I see no point in repeating what she has to say.

I agree with what Kate has to say in “Is it time to reform the Charities Register?” and, it would seem those who have comment on her piece are of the same mind.

Have a read of what Kate has to say – do you agree that it is time to reform the Charities Register?

“In recent years, there have been various moves by Government to ensure that charities are more accountable and transparent in their financial management. The new accounting standards that come in shortly will ensure that charities are clear and open about investment returns and outcomes reporting.

“We as a sector should welcome these moves as adding credibility to what we do, but isn’t it time the Government attacked the more complex issues of what constitutes a ‘charity’ here in Godzone?

Read Kate’s full piece here

What do you think – is it time for reform?

Leave a comment below and let me know what you think, I’ll also gladly pass your comments onto Kate.