25/02/2015 - 04:41

Think outside the box on philanthropy

25/02/2015 - 04:41

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I have always been impressed with the value to individuals and their businesses offered by participation in exchange programs.

I have always been impressed with the value to individuals and their businesses offered by participation in exchange programs.

A staff scholarship to an overseas placement – the US, China, UK or elsewhere – is of tremendous value to all parties involved. For staff, an international scholarship is a satisfying reward that provides significant opportunity for professional and personal experience. For management, exchanges serve as enticing motivators and powerful development tools. The knowledge and experience a returning staff member can bring to their organisation often proves invaluable.

Having seen the fruits of exchange programs in the private sector, some few years ago I began to ponder the potential of similar initiatives in other settings, including philanthropy.

Philanthropy continues to grow in scope within the Western Australian business community. Last year, 22 organisations agreed to donate at least 1 per cent of their pre-tax income to the not-for-profit sector, as part of the Giving West challenge. Giving West has reported a net increase in corporate donations that numbers in the billions.

Philanthropy is often perceived in purely material terms; a donation that goes toward food, clothing, accommodation, infrastructure and other tangible goods for those in need. Certainly the value of material support is high, and a great deal of philanthropy is pledged in this manner.

However, philanthropy can include so much more. Whether it is volunteering, mentorship, pro-bono support, marketing and media campaigns, or staff development – there are numerous ways to help build stronger communities.

During the past three years, my family and I have funded an international scholarship for staff in the not-for-profit sector. The Alice Kingsnorth Scholarship provides applicants working at Anglicare WA with the opportunity to study and work abroad for six weeks.

Thus far, the scholarship has been a resounding success; we are committed to funding the concept for a further five years.

The recipients are chosen through a formal-but-simple application process. Applicants are allowed to select their own choice of placement and are asked to demonstrate how the exchange will enhance their current work.

Recipients thus far have included financial counsellors, youth workers, tenancy support workers and a children's consultant.

Anglicare WA manager of financial counselling services Wendy Black travelled to Ireland to visit the Money Advice and Budgeting Service.

Daniel Langlands, a youth worker, travelled to England to work with Community Campus '87 and the volunteering branch of Centrepoint.

Anglicare WA children's consultant Tunya Petridis travelled to the US to research therapeutic practices for child trauma victims. This included observing members of the New York Police Department as they worked with child victims.

This year, Cheryl Millard, a youth worker at the Foyer Oxford, and Julie McKie, a Tenancy Support Worker for the Support and Tenancy Education Program have been named our 2015 scholarship winners.

As part of the scholarship, recipients document their journey and present their findings upon their return. The knowledge they have acquired is being used to establish new policy and practice guidelines, training courses, and service developments.

Our family takes a keen interest in the scholarship, from input into the selection to attendance at the scholars' presentation to fellow staff members on their return. It has given us a great sense of satisfaction to witness the enthusiasm with which the scholars return to Anglicare WA and share their newfound knowledge and experience.

It is heart-warming to see the current spike in philanthropy in WA. Effective social investment not only eases the stress felt by vulnerable Australians, it helps to prevent future crises from occurring. It is important that we continue to innovate and think outside the box, to ensure we build a safety net that is strong and secure for the future.

We chose to invest in individuals who have proved their commitment to WA. I believe it is an investment that will continue to pay off for our community and the people in it.

Anglicare WA and the Kingsnorth family are available to assist others who may wish to sponsor similar scholarships.

 

Dudley Kingsnorth

Professor

Curtin University, Office of Research & Development

Dudley.Kingsnorth@curtin.edu.au

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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