Funding withdrawals prompted a change in the way this neighbourhood centre worked and reached out to its local community.

When recent funding withdrawals significantly reduced Mackay’s George Street Neighbourhood Centre's budget, manager Teresa Raj knew it was time to talk to her team.

"We lost two major programs: Literacy and Numeracy, and Participate in Prosperity. Both were major funding projects, so that was a huge loss, 10 per cent across George Street. We were auspicing another service and due to their funding cuts they couldn't continue the contract with us. So all together we got hit quite significantly," said Teresa. "We sat down and had an open and honest discussion with the staff. We said, 'This is where we're at. We are running at a deficit. If we continue like this, we are going to crash. So let's start thinking. Each and every one of you here, what is your commitment to the organisation? What can you give?"

Rethinking resources

The result of that conversation was a program of fundraising events – a new direction for the organisation. In 2013 the neighbourhood centre held a dinner, car wash, monster garage sale, movie night, and Christmas carols under the stars. They achieved all this without employing a new position to deliver the fundraising activities, instead restructuring two existing roles and building two hours a week into each and every staff member’s role to work on new relationships and partnerships, both for service delivery and fundraising. Reporting on the number of new relationships they develop has become part of every staff member’s line management.  

The fundraising program had two aims. The first was to raise the profile of the organisation to reach new families moving into the area. This networking and relationship building process allowed the neighbourhood centre to collaborate with other service providers to enhance service delivery. The second aim was to put money back into the organisation after recent funding withdrawals.

While the organisation has contributed funds to develop a new website to refresh the brand's visual identity, to capture online donations and to register volunteers, it has had to be creative in finding the resources to deliver fundraising activities. The coordination and staffing of fundraising events has come down to staff and volunteers.  A vigorous campaign has seen 24 new volunteers sign up in the last two months to work on fundraising. In-kind donations from new partners in the community have provided the equipment, catering and prizes required to hold the events which included a dinner, car wash, carols by candlelight, and barbecue.  "Everything for the Roast Dinner was donated by Woolworths, Coles, IGA, Bothwicks and South Leagues (Club). We didn't spend a dollar, they gave everything," said Teresa.

Impact

The frank and honest discussions between the staff have resulted in a profound cultural shift in the organisation. Teresa reports that all staff are now more willing to volunteer their time after hours to deliver fundraising activities. Each and every staff member’s focus has shifted to be more outcomes based in service provision to Mackay families. Not only has the re-focus allowed the fundraising to be possible, it has impacted on the delivery of services as well.

So far all funds raised have been put towards emergency relief and assisting families with other costs, such as school uniforms and providing funds for the funeral of a young boy who was tragically killed. While the organisation has a federally funded Emergency Relief Program, it does not meet the presenting needs of local, vulnerable families.

Teresa is realistic that the George Street Neighbourhood Centre's fundraising will never be able to fully replace government funding for services. "Looking into Mackay as a region and trying to raise funds when the region itself is struggling in different sectors...it is really hard. But what we can do is raise our profile, get a little bit of resources in, and help in a little way."

And as for fundraising plans in 2014? Teresa simply replied, "Watch this space."

Case study key themes

Leadership – Teresa’s strong leadership is driving the change in her organisation. But she is also sharing her leadership by making each staff member responsible for bringing in new partners to the organisation. 

Investment – In addition to funding the cost of a new website, George Street Neighbourhood Centre is making a significant investment in staff time to deliver the fundraising program. Their investment is being returned in the form of community resources, such as volunteers and in-kind support, while cash donations are starting to flow in.

Culture shift – A change in attitudes and in the way each staff member works was vital to the neighbourhood centre’s fundraising strategy. The new fundraising program has necessitated a cultural shift in how George Street operates as an organisation, which has in turn positively impacted and changed the way it delivers services.

Reactive – George Street is reacting to its reduced funding after the fact, and so is starting from the back foot. It is only now in the process of building its organisational capacity, systems and community relationships in order to deliver fundraising activities. It will take several years for its fundraising program to mature and truly repay the organisation’s investment. 

This case study appears in Rethinking Resources: Case Studies of Financial Resilience from Queensland Community Services report. 

Listen to the interview with Teresa on StudioQ

Download the report

Download this case study

Read more about fundraising

What are the factors that enable some Aboriginal organisations to drive positive change in their communities? The Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research has released a new paper: Let’s talk about success: exploring factors behind positive change in Aboriginal communities This paper draws on...
Early intervention for a child with a developmental delay or disability is important in maximising benefit for the child and family. Providing quality intervention early in a child’s life reduces the possible need for longer term intervention and improves the functionality, inclusion and wellbeing...
Starting 1 July 2016, anyone who sustains serious personal injuries in a motor vehicle accident will receive necessary and reasonable care and support regardless of fault. This change is needed as currently, Queensland’s Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance is a fault-based scheme, resulting in...
Deaf Services Queensland has recently launched its early intervention children’s service for deaf and hard of hearing children from 0-7 years, Hear for Kids . This service is the result of a merger with Hearing Impaired Children’s Therapy Inc. (HICTI), merging to become a dedicated children’s...
AMPARO Advocacy has been working to increase the participation of people with disability and their families from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, in activities that aim to prepare them for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. As part of this work AMPARO Advocacy has produced...
The Logan Project charts the journey of the city's aspiring singers and musicians as they work together to create a new, positive narrative for their city. Logan, Queensland has had a reputation for doing it tough, with high unemployment and sensationalised reports of racial tensions between...
Falls in older people are a major public health problem, with one in three older people falling each year. Fortunately, many falls are preventable if appropriate preventative actions are taken. FootHold is a foot and ankle exercise program developed by a team of Australian researchers. The...
In a perfect world, all of your fans would see all of your posts in the news feed. But this is not a perfect world, and your Facebook posts are rarely seen by the people who’ve liked your Page. It might seem unfair, but when you get right down to it, Facebook users are the ones telling the news...
Last week over 170 leaders from across the community, government, academic and corporate sectors joined Infoxchange to see Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull launch Ask Izzy . Ask Izzy is a free and anonymous online directory that helps Australians who are homeless find critical support services. The...
Computer receiving mail
Do you have a niggling email marketing question? Maybe you’re wondering whether to resend an email campaign? Or what to do with disengaged subscribers? Vision6 and Email Monks have joined forces to create a useful infographic and a free webinar to help you get the most out of your emails. Read...

Pages

Peter Kenyon
Author: 
Shelley Dunlop, QCOSS

Last week on 17 October 2014 the QCOSS State Conference - Building strength was held at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Brisbane.

The program aimed to build on the strengths already existing within Queensland’s strong and resilient community service sector, as well...

Report
Author: 
Anne Curson, Queensland Council of Social Service

This month QCOSS releases the Rethinking Resources: Case Studies of Financial Resilience from Community Services report, in which community organisations from Queensland share...

Pro Bono Australia logo
Author: 
Tiffany Tento, Queensland Council of Social Service

Pro Bono Australia founder, Karen Mahlab has delivered her top 10 trends for the social sector in 2014.

Karen's predictions include:

  • The future of reform
  • ...

Pages

See videos from StudioQ related to this topic

Share or Print