Equity Trustees’ commitTed to deepening community Impact
World Mental Health Day (10 October) aimed to raise awareness of mental health issues globally – highlighting what can be done, and what is still left to do.
In this edition of Horizon, we highlight the work of grant beneficiaries who are on the front line of supporting the people who work in, and those experiencing, mental illness.
Often philanthropic support ultimately goes towards restoring the wellbeing of people – clients – of a charity or service. But just as critical is to help the helpers - we also need to focus on the wellbeing of the people who do the work of supporting, counselling, diagnosing, teaching and coaching. Without their resilience, skill and commitment, the system which supports our community when it is most vulnerable, cannot function.
After the bushfires of 2019/2020, followed immediately by the global pandemic, a number of insightful research reports were published which carefully analysed the critical work of the community sector, the numerous pressures it was under and what that meant for the future outlook for the critical work.
The Institute of Community Directors Australia produced a report in June 2021 titled “COVID-19 Community Sector Impact Survey”. Some of it’s key findings included:
• Following a short lull in the immediate wake of the pandemic, demand for services significantly increased
• 52% of respondents (more than 900 individuals) had experienced increased demand for services
• 43% of respondents had significantly increased their use of digital technology to connect with stakeholders over the past 12 months, with 64% of respondents planning further focus on digital technology in the next 12 months
• Government assistance (like JobKeeper and JobSeeker) enabled many to keep staff numbers intact and avoid large losses
• The effects of the pandemic on fundraising income have been significant, with 57% reporting a downturn of some degree
• 73% of respondents noted their reliance on volunteers to deliver programs / services
• 64% reported a drop in their volunteer workforce, 81% said the pandemic had impacted their ability to manage and recruit volunteers
• The community sector’s huge reliance on older people to power the nation’s volunteer army is a significant area of vulnerability
• 61% of respondents were required to reskill/retrain during the pandemic – mostly in the areas of digital and cyber-security, as well as mental health first aid and occupational health and safety
• There is an expectation that there will be a need for investment in social and emotional skills training
• The biggest challenges facing organisations can be summarized as: budget constraints, diversity of income streams, access to skilled employees and access to digital technology
The Reset2020 National Impact + Need Research Study, produced by Xfactor Collective and supported by funding from Equity Trustees, uncovered concerning figures around the wellbeing of the for-purpose workforce. CEO of Xfactor Collective recently wrote a piece for Pro Bono News outlining the need to maintain a “wellbeing governance” mindset, keeping wellbeing at the core of every decision being made, in light of the very-present burnout in our sector. A further article for Philanthropy Australia highlighted wellbeing as a key component to our sector’s recovery.
In times of immense pressure, we as funders need to ask ourselves: What can philanthropy do to support the wellbeing of the organisations and its people, who in turn are supporting our most vulnerable communities?
Equity Trustees’ commitment to deepening community impact includes a specific allocation of funds to support sector capacity building – because we recognise that investing in sustainable for-purpose organisations is essential to creating empowered organisations equipped to have an impact.
Last year, Equity Trustees along with other funders signed up to the Philanthropy Australia pledge – which was a vital collaborative response to the COVID-19 crisis.
This pledge cited the clear need to listen to organisations, be flexible with funding where possible and be collaborative with other funders (internal and external to Equity Trustees) to reduce the administration burden on organisations. The spirit of this joint effort and the Pledge will be just as important as we work our way out the other side of this pandemic.
The sustainability of our community sector requires those who work in philanthropy to actively listen, consult and work in partnership. If we take the view that a healthy and robust community is one in which we all can get the support we need to flourish, then we all have a vested interest in ensuring our most vulnerable, and the organisations that support them, have the resources they need to thrive.
To discuss how you can incorporate aspects of the Philanthropy Australia Pledge in your own philanthropy, please speak with your Relationship Manager.