So what did you do with your extra hour in this leap year with an extra day?
Well I can share how I maximized the 25th hour/94th day of the 366 year….. (“extra moment”)!
I chose to reflect on a very exciting collaborative alliance that I am very proud to be the Champion of – Volunteer Family Connect (VFC).
This exciting project is an Australian first (and global first) being a combined randomized control trial (RCT) and social return on investment (SROI) enquiring into what really works around volunteering in the home –specifically for children and families who are vulnerable and in need of support.
I describe the group involved as a collaborative alliance as that is what they represent. The group consists of three Not For Profit service delivery agents – Benevolent Society; Karitane; Save The Children Australia (previously Good Beginnings Australia) – all hard working Not For Profits of varying sizes, capacity and in some respects competitors.
The other part of the collaborative alliance includes two Universities – Macquarie University and Western Sydney University. Both of these institutions have great reputations and demonstrate much experience of working together as well as competing. There is also an involvement with Ernst and Young and funding from all levels of government both federal and across jurisdictions (NSW; Vic; Tas; Qld).
I would hope by now as the reader you are quite in agreement that to have such a group working together is an incredible achievement for all but there is also a final piece of the equation. Like in the advertisement “and that’s not all”!!
This alliance is underpinned with majority of the funding being supported by a philantrophist who is keen to enable the sector to work more effectively but most importantly the interest and desired outcome being about the families. Collectively we all strongly believe that Volunteering works so why is it such a challenge to have volunteering funded as and when required? Some form of paid support must always reinforce volunteering, particularly, when working with vulnerable children and families. The need for evidence is paramount which is the reason VFC has extended the collaborative alliance to include the ultimate level of a RCT and SROI.
This Blog is not solely about VFC (there will be many more Blogs and snapshots of information to follow). I am keen in this “extra moment” to also draw a link to the 29 March Pro Bono and JBWere article – Australia’s Charity Sector at Highest Ever Concentration.
The claims in this article are based upon a comparison with USA identifying that Australia has “the largest number of charities per capita in its history, with one charity for every 422 people”. This statistic was drawn from the JBWere Cause Report. I am in agreement with this statistic because we cannot keep doing things as if the sector has an eternal growth period when competing with each other worked well – this will not work for the future.
The report also reflects on the shrinking and ageing volunteer workforce, which is why the VFC RCT/SROI is such an important piece of research. If we can better understand what works in Volunteering there is much more chance of recruiting in a way that suits the future trends – not the past!
So on this special “extra moment” I thought it was really important to celebrate this VFC collaborative alliance that in many ways is paving the way for future non-competitive alliances:
- Those who know the best way to work with communities – working with them not to them; leading the practical application. Most importantly in an enabling and not in a competing or command and control style.
- The methodology is being tried and tested enabling changes to ensure best practice is maintained within an evidence informed pathway.
- In addition both practice and research is grounded within a social return on investment, which provides funders across government, non government, from corporates to individuals to ensure their collective funding provides ground breaking outcomes.
I truly wish I had many more “extra moments” like this!!!