17/07/2007 - 22:00

Not for profit: Business connections pay off

17/07/2007 - 22:00


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Financial support from the corporate sector is becoming increasingly important for many organisations in Western Australia as government funding to the not-for-profit sector tightens.

Not for profit: Business connections pay off

Financial support from the corporate sector is becoming increasingly important for many organisations in Western Australia as government funding to the not-for-profit sector tightens.


For Burswood-based counselling agency, Youth Focus, establishing connections with the business community has helped it achieve financial security.


Under the stewardship of chief executive officer, Jenny Allen, the organisation has transformed itself over the past seven years, from a fledgling group run mainly by volunteers to an organisation of 27 paid staff.


In 2000, most of the organisation’s funding of $240,000 was sourced from government grants.


Now, only 12 per cent of the agency’s $2 million budget is derived from government channels, with the remaining 88 per cent coming from corporate donations and partnerships.


Ms Allen said Youth Focus also received in-kind support of almost $2 million.


“When I came on board, it was almost wholly government funded,” she told WA Business News.


“I realised that the pie chart is only so big, although corporate social responsibility was not yet really emerging.”


Youth Focus has established partnerships with Hawaiian, Woodside, and CSBP, as well as 16 partnerships with businesses in property, accounting and mining, among other sectors.


Ms Allen said a lot of businesses were coming around to the idea that corporate social responsibility affected their bottom line.


“You’ve got to have a good product. For a lot of not for profits, it’s difficult to call (their service) a product. We’ve got a marketable product,” she said.


Overall, Ms Allen said, corporate funding had underscored the organisation’s growth.


“It’s a healthy way of having flexibility within the organisation. We can make decisions quite quickly if they have to be made,” she said.


As part of its growth strategy, Youth Focus has undertaken a rebranding and strengthened its board, although Ms Allen said it was equally important to have good governance and a strong staff base.


“It’s no good having a fantastic board if the staff can’t deliver,” she said.


The Dyslexia-SPELD Foundation is also looking to increase the amount of non-tied funding it receives, in order to increase capacity.


The organisation has upped its staffing levels from 0.4 full-time equivalent psychologists on staff, to six, over the past three years, with services booked up at least six months in advance.


It has also expanded its services into regional areas, including the Pilbara, the South West, Kalgoorlie and the central Wheatbelt.


The foundation’s chief executive officer, Mandy Nayton, said the organisation was keen to increase its corporate funding, although it was challenging to attract funding, particularly when fundraising was geared towards major events requiring a large amount of resources.


“The preference is always to fund specific projects,” she said.“There is a tendency for people to want to see something for their money.”


Ms Nayton said it was also difficult to establish business networks without the marketing or public relations resources of larger organisations, although it was incumbent upon not for profits to be proactive in seeking funding.


“I think organisations have a responsibility to go out seeking corporate support. Government funding is not a bottomless pit and it’s always going to be less than we need,” she said.


With 13 employed staff and 10 volunteers, Ms Nayton said the foundation could significantly expand its services to meet community demand with additional funding.


Currently, the organisation has a budget of about $550,000.


“At the moment, we’re looking to get about an extra $50,000 a year to continue to provide the services we already are,” Ms Nayton said.


“Because of the amount of pressure we’re under at the moment, we’re finding it hard to get back to people.”



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