Good Governance in Regional and Rural Areas webinar - follow-up question responses.

In April 2021 the team at the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) delivered a webinar on good governance in rural and regional areas. With 2000 people tuning in, there was not enough time to answer all of the questions in the allotted time, so FRRR have kindly gone back and answered all unanswered questions. You can find their responses below.

Missed the webinar or need a refresh? Watch the webinar by clicking here.

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We are interested in funds to upgrade our meeting rooms to create a Community Hub/Centre

FRRR’s Strengthening Rural Communities grants program offers grants to support broad community needs in rural, remote and regional Australia. The upgrade of community meeting rooms and development of community centres both fit within this objective. As part of determining eligibility, information regarding the ownership of any building being upgraded will be required to include in this type of application.

Does a pro-forma letter of support, e.g. tick the box list, work or should you get each person or group to write in their own words?

FRRR appreciates personally written Letters of Support as opposed to proforma/tick the box indications of support. Individually written letters provide more specific insight into the benefit a project will have for a particular group or cohort, and are therefore much stronger.

Where can we find templates for budget estimates please?

Estimates should be included in your budget only as a last resort. It is preferable that quotes are included for all items over $500. If you are unable to provide a quote, explain why in the financial notes section of the application and provide a clear breakdown showing how the estimate was calculated. Here is a link to a 3-minute video on preparing your budget, available on the FRRR website under Grant Seeker Resources https://frrr.org.au/funding/grant-seeker-resources/#money- matters

$41 to calculate volunteer hourly rate. Is there a source for this?

The suggested $41.00 per hour for costing the volunteer contribution of volunteers is in line with the advice of the Our Community Funding Centre. If you will have professional or tradespeople volunteer time on your project, the hourly rate they are costed in at should be in accordance with their usual hourly rate which can be higher. Source: https://explore.fundingcentre.com.au/help- sheets/valuing-volunteer-labour

Any ideas on how to line item insurance costs - which seem to gobble up much grant funds?

Insurances are generally considered core costs and therefore are often not eligible for inclusion in grant application expenditure items. However, in recognition of the significant impact COVID-19 has had on many organisations and communities, Strengthening Rural Communities grant requests to support core operating costs are currently able to be considered. A core cost such as insurances should be apportioned appropriate to the size of the project and grant sought, and an explanation included explaining the calculation.

Advice for grants for ongoing programs, rather than specific events?

Support for ongoing programs is typically categorised by FRRR as a core cost given it is the usual business of the organisation. Expansion of an existing program, for example into a new geographic area, does not fall within this category and therefore will be assessed on its merits. Further, in recognition of the significant impact COVID-19 has had on many organisations and communities, Strengthening Rural Communities grant requests to support core operating costs are currently eligible for consideration.

How long do you estimate is an average timeline from concept through to delivery, allowing for planning and assessment, paperwork and fund delivery? (I know, how long is a piece of string)

The time required to develop a project and submit a funding application to FRRR will vary significantly depending on the project being delivered. Consulting and planning with your community and organisation will take the most time. After you have a clear picture of your need and the project you would like to seek funding for, we recommend allowing at least 3 weeks for collecting letters of support, letters of permission, quotes and any other attachments you require. You should also allow a further one - two weeks to give yourself enough time to complete your online application. The FRRR online application can be saved and gone back to therefore we strongly encourage you access the application form early to understand what is involved.

How to balance grants vs volunteer capacity. There seems to be a 'season' for grants. and small organisations try and apply for as many as possible but if multiple are approved, it creates large pressure on limited volunteers and committees to execute multiple concurrently

FRRR’s Strengthening Rural Communities and Tackling Tough Times Together grants programs are each offered four times per year, which provides an opportunity for applicants to stagger applications and projects if preferred.

When applying for grants, you may consider factoring in costs to bring in paid contractors for some tasks volunteers would normally undertake, particularly if you foresee additional funds will increase volunteers’ workload. You might also consider funding to support a project coordinator and paid administrative support. If applying for funding to support paid staff, ensure wage calculations are included.

Project planning is a pivotal part of the process, and once clear project objectives and timelines are developed, organisations can identify the grants most aligned to their funding needs. This reduces the likelihood of chasing funding opportunities and over committing.

With all that is required for an application we find our volunteers are sometimes too busy just doing what is required for the NFP

FRRR acknowledges the challenges volunteers face including competing demands on their time. Some strategies in light of these pressures, to reduce the burden on volunteer grants writers are:

  • - Share the writing of the application. If the organisation has capacity, take time to prepare and plan who will be involved. Breaking down the application process can be helpful, allowing you to enlist support from those either within the organisation or in your community to help complete the different sections. If possible, draft the application first so others can have input and support content development.

  • - Save all your grant submissions into one place. Some information can be cut and pasted into multiple applications - information about your organisation’s background for example.

  • - Access the resources of Volunteering Australia (https://www.volunteeringaustralia.org/#/) to enhance your support for volunteers.

I am just starting to develop a community garden in rural Queensland. Would funding this fit in with your grant program?

FRRR’s Strengthening Rural Communities grants program offers grants to support broad community needs in rural, remote and regional Australia. The development of a community garden fits within this objective. All applications to FRRR should be made by a not-for-profit, and not by an individual.

Are there any mistakes or actions that might be done by inexperienced volunteer grant applications that might negatively impact the organisation being approved for future grant funding?

There are a number of ways a volunteer organisation may inadvertently impact their likelihood of obtaining future grants with a funder. These include: failing to collect receipts to demonstrate a previous grant has been spent appropriately; failing to complete a final report; and failing to stay in contact with the funder if circumstances change and there are changes to the project.

If we applied for the Strengthening Rural Community grants last year, and were unsuccessful, can we reapply? Is it possible to find out why we were unsuccessful so we can improve those areas of the application

Applicants to FRRR are welcome to apply in future rounds regardless of whether they have been successful or not. When an organisation receives a letter saying they were unsuccessful in receiving a grant, they are encouraged to contact FRRR for feedback, including to improve their likelihood of success in future applications.

Is there any workshop about how to write grants?

FRRR runs face to face and online grant seeker workshops based on demand. All grant seeker workshops are promoted in a free monthly newsletter emailed to subscribers. You can sign up to e- news via this link: https://frrr.org.au/news/newsletters/newsletter-subscribe/

Our Community’s funding centre provides a range of resources to assist with writing grant applications. This includes “Answer Bank – sample answers for grant applications” available here: https://explore.fundingcentre.com.au/help-sheets/answersbank

So many grants are numbers based (increasing attendees/participants). Most regional/rural communities have a limited number of people/participants available - is there any way of overcoming this?

At FRRR we recognise many rural and remote communities are very small. While we look to support projects that demonstrate ‘wide community benefit’, this is assessed relative to the size of the population.

is it possible to apply for a grant to cover the administration costs of a NFP in their administration of providing funds to victims of disasters, eg. bushfires?

Guidelines detailing what expenditure items FRRR grants can and cannot support are provided for each grant program. This includes the Strengthening Rural Communities grants program which has a Bushfire Recovery stream. In recognition of the significant impact COVID-19 has had on many organisations and communities, grant requests to support core operating costs are able to be considered.

How can organisations appropriately propose funding/sponsorship with businesses or other organisations? To be more pro-active and not relying on grants becoming available

Preparing a written document that succinctly outlines your organisation’s purpose, the project funding is sought for, the need (with evidence), the required funding amount and the benefit/s for the business/sponsor will help an organisation to be proactive in seeking out financial support. Not all business will be able to provide cash funding support so it’s a good idea to have alternative (non - monetary) options for how they can provide support too.

Is there a website/information on all grants available?

All FRRR grants are listed on our website www.frrr.org.au. On the home page there is a link to ‘Find Funding Now”

What is the role of the FRRR State/Territory representative? Who is Michelle's counterpart in SA for questions/info?

FRRR has four state-based Grants Program Managers. Grants Programs Managers lead and manage FRRR grant programs that are offered in their respective states including the Strengthening Rural Communities grants program. They work closely with communities to build FRRR’s reach and impact across a range of social, economic, environmental outcomes to support remote, rural, and regional Australia. Their contact details are:

Carlene Egan, SA & TAS Grants Program Manager Ph: 03 5430 2399
c.egan@frrr.org.au

Jacki Dimond, NSW Grants Program Manager 03 5430 2399
j.dimond@frrr.org.au

Karly Smith Whelan, VIC Grants Program Manager 03 5430 2303
k.smithwhelan@frrr.org.au

Michelle Murphy-O’Kane, QLD, WA & NT Grants Program Manager 03 5430 2320
m.murphy-okane@frrr.org.au

Could you please repeat that simple definition of conflict of interest?

It is when your responsibility to act in the best interest of an organisation conflicts with your personal interest and could lead to you using your position to gain a benefit for yourself personally or for your family, friends or business interest.

Or more simply, it is when a personal interest could compromise your decision making or actions.

Are there templates available for conflict-of-interest policies/procedures, perchance?

The following are good places to start for templates and further information:

If you are part of a larger governing body or representative organisation (such as CWA, Lions Club, Scouts, or sporting body) there may be resources you can source from that larger organisation.

Have you any comment about declaring a conflict retrospectively, such as a perceived conflict you didn’t realise was potentially present?

It is important to declare this conflict when you become aware of it, whether it relates to yourself or another member/s of the committee. Transparency and disclosure are essential to ensure good governance. List the conflict or potential conflict in the conflict of interest register and disclose this at the next committee meeting – so there is a record of the conflict and note any steps or actions required. The actions taken will be dependent on the nature of the conflict (if it is an actual conflict or perceived). The organisation’s Conflict of Interest Policy should be referred to for guidance.

It is also important to disclose an actual conflict of interest to granting and other funding bodies, so the funding body can determine if any action is required, such as requesting return of funds if the conflict is of a serious nature.

Can a committee / board set a pay-rate for their own members who participate in a specific project? eg. grant provided for a project, committee members help out with that project in return for compensation for time.

According to Justice Connect whilst most not-for-profit organisations do not pay their committee or board members, the law does not prohibit this. However, there are a number of matters that should be checked to see if your organisation is permitted to make these type of payments, for example does the organisation’s terms of reference, licence or constitution allow for payments.

Your organisation should always follow good practice and process. Payments may be viewed as an actual conflict of interest, so your organisation will need to have clear policies and procedures around payments to ensure it is compliant with the purposes of the organisation and are not in breach of any policies or the constitution. This is when it is beneficial to have a Conflict of Interest Policy and procedures in place to guide this discussion and decision-making.

Your organisation may reimburse members and board members for costs that are reasonably incurred. Once again it is useful to have a Reimbursement Policy to ensure clarity and consistency of approach.

These links are helpful for further information on this matter:

  • www.nfplaw.org.au/sites/default/files/media/Payment_of_board_members_CTH.pdf
  • www.acnc.gov.au/tools/guides/remunerating-charity-board-members

Statistics on Volunteering in Australia and in each state

Statistics referenced in the webinar were from the following sources:

Managing and participating in volunteering is getting more difficult because of a range of WPHS and Governance layers we are putting around it. How can we simplify those?

The governance and operational requirements that volunteers will need to comply with will largely depend on your organisation and the type of volunteer work that is being undertaken. If your organisation already has these policies and procedures developed, then these can be appropriately communicated to volunteers through the induction process. If not, you can seek guidance to develop these through organisations such as Our Community, or Volunteering Australia- Resource Hub. To make things easier, there are a range of handbooks and training webinars accessible through these websites. Some useful links with helpful templates and resources can be found here:

https://www.nfplaw.org.au/volunteers

https://www.volunteeringaustralia.org/resources/#/

https://volunteeringhub.org.au/

How would you recommend management of a dominating volunteer with tendency to over scrutinise ideas, actions and discussions to possibly influence outcomes.

There are various approaches that could turn this challenging situation in to an opportunity. This could be as simple as undertaking group training and team building or managing the situation through a facilitated conversation. It may also be useful to review the role and responsibilities the volunteer holds and how long they have held these for. Sometimes when volunteers are overwhelmed by their responsibilities, are burnt out, bored, or not being challenged in their volunteering capacity they may use their energy in less constructive ways. Reflecting on this may help frame a conversation that identifies a pathway forward.

Regardless of the approach, it’s imperative to have a Volunteer Code of Conduct that volunteers are familiar with as this will provide important guidelines for appropriate behaviour to ensure the working environment is productive and positive.

How do you manage burnout from members? Many small communities have the same people involved with multiple groups doing a lot of the work all the time.

In small communities it is very common for people to be contributing their time towards multiple groups and purposes. If not managed by the individual and respective organisations appropriately this can often lead to burnout or complete disengagement. Adopting strategies that build a culture of volunteer wellbeing and care will support everyone to take responsibility for each other’s wellbeing, and hopefully make it easier to spot the signs of burnout before it occurs.

Key strategies for managing volunteer burnout (and volunteer manager burnout) are:

  • have a clear volunteer onboarding system in place,
  • have defined roles and terms for volunteer positions, and,
  • have a transparent process for reviewing roles and responsibilities regularly.
  • Consider mapping volunteer engagement as a community

If you manage volunteers and would like to develop further practical skills or seek support around managing burnout with your volunteers, a suggested contact for great training and support is https://www.thehumanitarian.com.au/

A resource and toolkit that provides detailed information about how and why volunteers experience burnout and some practical tools for supporting them provided by the red cross
https://pscentre.org/?resource=caring-for-volunteers-a-psychosocial-support-toolkit-english

Other general information on signs of burnout and strategies for supporting people experiencing burnout are:

Please note the above are provided as reference only. If you or someone you are concerned about are experiencing burn out and need support, please speak to a professional. Call Beyond Blue 1300 22 1636

What's your view on levying a participation fee on volunteers (in addition to the annual membership of the association? We charge up to $200 per year for participation.

Whether or not an organisation charges a fee for volunteer participation can depend on the type of organisation (community group, local arm of national body), and what type of support, resources and opportunities the organisation provides as part of its management fee.

Good and effective volunteer management does require resources and expenses. There may be ways of obtaining support for volunteer management than charging volunteer participants, such as building in a line item for volunteer support & equipment costs in each fundraising proposal or seeking specific funding for volunteer resources from some organisations.

It is important to be clear about whether you are charging a fee as a fundraising strategy to support the organisations mission or to invest in your volunteers through improved volunteer support and resources. Volunteering resources are valuable to an organisation. Expecting people to pay to provide their time (and resources) can be perceived as a barrier and that the cost of supporting volunteers should really be borne by the organisation as a cost of doing business. In addition, volunteers are often already required to pay for their background checks, training, uniform and general expenses throughout their volunteering activities.

A fee can make participation challenging and may exclude members of your community, resulting in a lack of diversity or fewer members.

What does "highest level of contribution" mean?

When managing volunteers, meeting someone at their highest level of contribution, means you are engaging and activating them in a way that meets their individual interests, passions, needs and capacity, which in turn supports them to thrive and give their best self to their volunteer activities.

You can read more about the concepts behind the phrase. and further thinking about the journey of the volunteer (including the three stages) on Realized Worth’s website.

Attracting & Recruiting volunteers

When considering strategies that will attract and recruit new volunteers, it is important to understand what motivates the group of people you are seeking to recruit, their characteristics and the barriers to participation that may exist. You may ask your current volunteers or work with other organisations to collectively gather and share insights about different volunteer groups. It may be worth running an engagement activity within your community such as a Volunteer Fair to profile opportunities and register interest.

It can be useful to adapt the types of volunteering roles to suit people’s interests and capacity to contribute. Pro bono, targeted, skill-based and short-term support can be more effective than traditional ‘regular’ volunteering and may be more attractive to potential volunteers as it takes less time than a weekly commitment.

If possible, create an up-to-date list of volunteering opportunities available (tasks, projects, roles) so that you can always be opportunistic when someone expresses interest, or completes one activity and could transition to another.

Consider online volunteering platforms where activities can be done remotely: https://www.volunteeringvictoria.org.au/leading-volunteers/recruiting-volunteers/

We find the hardest volunteer to attract is the committee member - 'I'd like to help, but I don't want to be making decisions, I'd like to be given a job or be told what to do in a practical way" so governance is then our biggest issue.

Linked to the information above regarding meeting a volunteer at their highest level of contribution, recruiting volunteers on to committees can be an ongoing challenge for organisations. Your organisation may manage this by ensuring there are a variety of roles with clear position descriptions with timeframes for tenure. You may also provide opportunities to undertake Governance training and offer mentoring/shadowing roles.

It’s important to respect volunteers’ limitations, appreciate the contribution they can make and celebrate everyone’s involvement.

Other useful links

Other useful links

Other questions
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How might we measure or define social impact at a local level?

While there are a range of tools developed nationally and internationally to formally measure social impact, FRRR believe that measuring the impact of a grant should be commensurate with the size of a grant. A formal evaluation may be planned for as part of a larger project, and in these cases we are always keen to see such reports. However, most FRRR grants are small grants and therefore we do not expect grant recipients to undertake extensive and formal evaluations. Instead, we encourage grant applicants to plan from the outset how they will measure and report any change at the local level as a result of their project, factoring in data collection processes. This should be both quantitative (eg. The number of people that attended) and qualitative (what people are saying/the change that’s been witnessed). More information on reporting local impact as a result of an FRRR grant can be found here https://frrr.org.au/funding/reporting/

The organisation I work at is creating a community groups and networks guide specifically for the communities we work with. Is there any key items you would recommend to include in such a guide?

Depending on the purpose of the guide, there are a range of resources on the Our Community and FRRR Community Resources websites. Here are some links to get you started:

https://www.ourcommunity.com.a...
Grant Seeker Resources https://frrr.org.au/funding/gr...

How do you define rural and regional - where?

FRRR uses a range of tools to determine whether an area should be classified as remote, rural and regional including listening closely to what grant applicants tell us, including about access to services. One tool used is the Australian Government Department of Health Workforce Locator.

The organisation I work at is creating a community groups and networks guide specifically for the communities we work with. Is there any key items you would recommend to include in such a guide?

Depending on the purpose of the guide, there are a range of resources on the Our Community and FRRR Community Resources websites. Here are some links to get you started:

https://www.ourcommunity.com.au/
Grant Seeker Resources: https://frrr.org.au/funding/grant-seeker-resources

How do you define rural and regional - where?

FRRR uses a range of tools to determine whether an area should be classified as remote, rural and regional including listening closely to what grant applicants tell us, including about access to services. One tool used is the Australian Government Department of Health Workforce Locator.

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