Wintringham: serving people aged 50-plus who are either homeless or at risk of homelessness for more than three decades.
Philanthropic investment helped establish housing association Wintringham more than thirty years ago. Now a digital upgrade has guaranteed the non-profit’s future.
Philanthropy can achieve the essential, the risky, the dream-worthy and the unimaginable.
If in doubt, just look to Wintringham: a non-profit organisation that’s been serving people aged 50-plus who are either homeless or at risk of homelessness for more than three decades.
“This organisation, which now turns over about a hundred million dollars a year, started when I got two philanthropic grants worth $10,000 each in the late 1980s,” says Bryan Lipmann AM, Wintringham’s founder and CEO.
Those two grants enabled Lipmann to create a charitable organisation that provides everything from outreach services to community care, aged care and palliative care throughout Victoria and Tasmania. Today, the organisation employs about 1,000 staff and assists 2,000 vulnerable older people to overcome the odds every night. “Philanthropy has the power to achieve amazing things.”
Recently, philanthropic investment backed Lipmann’s vision once again. The Wicking Trust, administered by Equity Trustees, provided Wintringham with a $1.8m grant for a digital transformation project. The grant was then topped up with a further $730,000 from the Commonwealth Government.
The digital transformation project aims to move Wintringham’s administrative, medical and financial manual operations to paperless systems. But without the funding, Lipmann says, the project would never have taken flight.
“All of our money has always gone towards our clients. So over the past 30 years, our processes have become antiquated. We really needed to upgrade our systems to bring them into a digital world, but we had no money to make the change. We couldn’t borrow money because we don't make enough money to service a debt. We could not very well take money away from our clients. We were faced with a massive dilemma – how do we cope?”
Thankfully, Wicking Trust believed in the value of building Wintringham’s capacity, enabling it to prosper in an increasingly digitised world.
“Philanthropy often wants to see a bricks and mortar result for their dollars so it was always going to be difficult to secure funding for capacity building such as a digital finance and medication system. We were fortunate that the Wicking Trust saw value in what we needed to do.”
The project has already transformed the organisation’s financial systems and the introduction of a centralised residential aged care management system and digital medication management system are currently underway. Client management software for all community aged care, housing and homelessness support, and NDIS clients will be introduced next year.
Lipmann says the philanthropic funding has not only revolutionised the organisation, it guaranteed its existence.
“The two early philanthropic grants I received nearly 40 years ago enabled me to start Wintringham.
“If Wintringham survives another 40 years, I won’t be around. But I truly believe that the Wicking grant for our digital transformation was the turning point that enabled the organisation to have a future. Philanthropic funding was integral to our survival.”
To find out more about Wintringham go to https://www.wintringham.org.au/who_we_are.html and donate at https://www.wintringham.org.au/donations.html.
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Photo: Staff at Wintringham implementing a centralised residential care management system earlier this year. Credit: Wintringham.