Reconnected - The Entrance, Wednesday 16 May
The Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP - Member for Fenner
Shadow Assistant Treasurer | Shadow Minister for Competition and Productivity
Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-Profits | Shadow Minister for Trade In Services
Social capital conversations – The Entrance Community Centre
On 16 May 2018, a group of Central Coast charities joined Labor's Emma McBride and Andrew Leigh to discuss successful strategies for building social capital and community engagement.
The small group conversations generated dozens of ideas and observations, some of which are set out below.
Please note that this list does not reflect Labor policy, but the ideas that were proposed by the charities and not-for-profits in attendance.
- Allocate time to innovate and be inspired.
- Partnerships are important – invite other groups to use your space if you have it.
- Create hubs for specialist goods (ie mobility aides) that can redistribute items to people who can’t otherwise access them.
- Facilities are often under-utilised (ie some Seniors’ Centres function 9-4pm), often the management don’t have the capacity or skills to co-ordinate multiple hirers.
- Establish a grant-writing hub - a central access point for pro bono assistance, giving access to people with experience in applications and liaising with government bodies (could be run through a local council, for example).
- Be public – visible events showcasing work of the organisation, benefits for the community and the opportunities to be involved. Community stalls and one of market days to introduce people to opportunities without implied commitment.
- Use collective events (ie street festival and markets, career day) to anchor existing groups and create culture of volunteering and co-operation.
- Use networks to find pro-bono experts like accountants and fundraisers.
- Social media can bring diverse people together for specific events or causes that directly benefit a particular community.
Engaging and enlisting volunteers
- Community projects, with concrete local goals, are good focal points for generating new involvement.
- To attract new volunteers, create short term volunteering opportunities – sponsorship, donations, projects – rather than ongoing roles.
- Share agency and authority with volunteers – provide more board and committee opportunities for young people.
- To give volunteers an opportunity to use and develop existing skills, create job roles rather than stand-alone tasks.
- Provide proper support structures – ‘code of conduct’ and ‘risk management’ and skills checklists for incoming volunteers.
Engagement and Collaboration
- Up to date online / mobile platforms to allow frictionless volunteering based on geographic location and interest.
- Educate incorporated NFPs and charities better about the services and support available through the Regional Development Council.
- “Community ambassadors” could assist charities, not-for-profits and community building projects.
- Meet with allies / peers regularly in smaller sized groups, rather than infrequently in large groups – creates better relationships and exchange of ideas.
- Outreach through hospitals – identifying people who face challenges (health / age) and informing them of options to be active and engaged with people in similar circumstances.
- Inclusive community events (ie breakfast / bbq / garage sale) open to anyone and everyone are a good soft entry point for new supporters and clients.
- Meals on Wheels – established a community restaurant (at a local community centre) to provide company and social connections for those who don’t just want to receive a meal at home.
- Established a business advisory service for other not-for-profits at a concessional rate.
- To ensure collaboration between not-for-profits is mutually beneficial, parties can set out a Memorandum of Understanding so that benefits can be attained without concern of diluting a brand or losing terrain.
- Organisations working on similar issues in close proximity should set up networks to share approaches to current challenges and pool resources, like volunteers and equipment.
- Volunteering needs to be recognised by the government as real work, with quantifiable value to the community and economy.
- Organisations need to educate themselves about nearby peers and colleagues
- Networks could grow from a one-stop shop for info on neighbouring charities with contact details and purpose information.
- ACNC should provide all new charities with information on grants and how to apply
- Not-for-Profits understand the value of social capital and see it in their work every day, but still need to establish ways to measure the value of that capital.
- Organisations need frames to turn empirical data into indexes of social value, and need marketing skills to communicate that value as one of the major credentials of the NFP sector.
- Sector needs a public awareness campaign to change the perception of the word ‘charity’.
- Acknowledge and reward volunteer co-ordination – provide tools to enable co-ordinators to give structured training and experience to volunteers.
- Good volunteer managers, with appropriate training and skills, increase satisfaction and retention of volunteers and increase the capacity of charities. Generic modules and hubs for sharing information could assist for organisations that don’t have specific resources for volunteer management.
- Rules and regulations are limiting what organisations and people can do, both financially and legally – insurance for volunteers over 80 (not covered)
- Transport support can dramatically increase the reach of services – ie a community bus can increase the service range of an ageing support hub, increasing the potential pool of clients from a local neighbourhood to a small region.
- Portable insurance for individuals - rather than people having to pay expensive registration fees for multiple clubs, establish a participation passport that covered people or organisations across a range of similar circumstances.
- Incentives for corporations and businesses to provide social capital (ie franchises in US get tax break for donating food to soup kitchens but Meals on Wheels can’t offer same to people who donate in Aus).
- A representative association for NGO / NFPs would help groups manage regulation and share costs of representing sector interests (ie legal advice). It could also look at whether the regulatory environment allows charities to readily share resources with other charities (benevolent oversight could set terms for freer exchange).
- Create incentives for organisations operating in related issues to collaborate.