Mission takes business approach

SHARP cutbacks in government funding combined with a drop in income from retail tenants in the Church-owned Wesley Centre has been a big wake-up call for Perth Wesley Mission.

In November the Wesley Mission completed a strategic review of its operations which concluded that to survive it needed to adopt a more business-like approach to its operations.

“We are deliberately operating more as a business entity, we needed to do that for our survival,” corporate relations consultant Jane Fitzgerald said.

Ms Fitzgerald, formerly from Dunhill Management Services, has been brought into the new position in a bid to gain interest from the corporate world to help keep the Mission – which has 270 members, but employs 70 people on an annual budget of $5.5 million – afloat.

“We have never bothered to really target corporate business before,” Ms Fitzgerald explains.

“Up till now most of our funding has come from individuals.”

She said the Mission had some catching up to do with other charity organisations that had reorganised earlier.

“There is a growing awareness in the corporate community that its important to put something back into the community and is part of their responsibility,” she said.

CB Richard Ellis, Hawaiian Investments, Freehills and the National Australia Bank are among those that have already backed the mission.

The Mission has also secured the monies coming from this year’s Property Council ball held in October.

A first in a series of corporate lunches raising the profile of the Mission are also planned. The first one has already been held.

The Mission need look no further than its Sydney counterpart to see what can be achieved. That Mission operates more than 400 centres, employs 2,500 staff on a budget of $135 million a year.

But for now Wesley Mission’s main concern is simply to re-open Tranby House on Murray Street, six days a week.

The Mission had to scale back from six to five days a week after the WA Government cut funding.

“We need an additional $50,000 urgently so that we can operate six days instead of five days a week,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

Charity body Mission Australia is also calling on the corporate world, in response to a report it compiled based on surveys from a cross-section of Mission Australia’s 300 community and employment programs.

The report found that changes in the past 20 years including globalisation, immigration, declining fertility rates and the aging of the population had destroyed the traditional social networks, leaving charities to pick up the slack.

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