One of Australia’s leading support organisations for the country’s 600,000 not-for-profits has promised to do whatever it takes to ensure the sector survives the COVID-19 crisis.
Our Community, a social enterprise which provides information, training and resources to not-for-profits, will now direct most of that activity to dealing with the impact of the virus, and providing that help for free.
Its first publication was a sorely needed Epidemic/Pandemic Policy template, released in partnership with Moores lawyers last week, in response to requests from the sector. The template had been downloaded more than 4500 times at last count.
Under the “Save Our Sector” banner at ourcommunity.com.au/saveoursector, Our Community’s enterprise will produce “how-to” resources that will prioritise:
- Initial community group survival steps and strategies
- Governance and decision-making
- Workplace and volunteer issues
- Funding and fundraising
- Technology, communications, networking and working from home tools
Our Community group managing director Denis Moriarty AM said the focus would shift as needed.
Like many organisations, Our Community staff are working from home, and the organisation had postponed conferences, face-to-face training and travel. Already an organisation with expertise in capacity building, technology and data, Our Community will shift training online and will direct its capabilities towards giving not-for-profits and community groups the best possible chance at survival.
Mr Moriarty said new tools would be complemented by resources drawn from Our Community enterprises, including:
- leadership-training and resources body the Institute of Community Directors Australia
- the grants and funding database at FundingCentre.com.au
- grants distribution platform SmartyGrants
- donations platform GiveNow
- advocacy and community platform Communities in Control
The materials to be made available will include help sheets, policy templates, webinars, and responses to sector questions and requests.
“This is something we’ve built up over 20 years. But now we’ve suspended business as usual to focus on creating and updating resources that community organisations will need in the tough months and years ahead,” Mr Moriarty said.
“Our chair (Reserve Bank board member), Carol Schwartz AO, and the head of our advisory Community Directors Council, Susan Pascoe AM (the inaugural chief of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission), will help us focus on the challenges for not-for-profits.”
“But our primary task will be sharing a trove of tried-and-tested resources for free, to save the sector millions.”
Mr Moriarty said Our Community expected to lean on existing partnerships in the banking, superannuation, insurance and legal sectors to produce resources and help.
The organisation will also forge other partnerships to help with the mission.
It has already joined the Community Council for Australia in supporting a seven-point plan calling for governments to extend their support and stimulus packages to a sector that turns over $146 billion in essential services, employs 1.3 million workers and hosts 3.5 million volunteers.
Mr Moriarty said in the times ahead, community organisations would be the “threads that hold the fabric of society together” and that Our Community’s mission had never been more important.
“We’re calling on the government to help, while doing everything we can to save our sector.”
The Our Community Group is working to support not-for-profits through the COVID-19 crisis, as part of our major campaign to help the not-for-profit sector to survive, re-invent and sustain.