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find that they are more successful in
finding the funding."
ALL ABOUT PURPOSE
The overarching challenge for NFPs will
be balancing the need to compete and
commercialise against their obligations as
a mission-based provider. The message
from Fittler and Wiratunga is simple: stay
true to your purpose.
"An organisation's purpose is what
should fuel its strategic plan, it should
fuel everything," says Fittler. "Why are we
here? What is the organisation's goal? Is it
to return good dividends to shareholders?
Or is it to provide great inclusive
affordable caring services to whoever
Fittler says that organisations can
experience what has been termed
"purpose drift", where they continue
operating on the same purpose that was
put forward at the time of their creation,
which may have been 50 or 100 years ago.
"If people don't continually come
back and re-focus on their purpose they
can find they're actually operating in a
completely different way. It's fine if your
purpose is challenged or changed, as long
as you're aware of that," he says.
It is recommended an organisation's
constitution should be reviewed once
every three years given strategic plans are
often three-year terms accompanied by a
one-year business plan.
A review of purpose will not only
challenge the strategic operation and
direction of the organisation but will also
"rekindle the passion" and remind staff
why they do what they do, says Fittler.
Common purpose is a unifying factor
that is important not just for the board
but for every staff member and volunteer,
adds Wiratunga. "By exploring that 'why'
factor you can uncover your shared
passion, your values and your purpose."
Being clear on purpose also helps
inform the organisation about who it
should employ, Fittler says. "You want to
employ people who share that purpose
and passion. You can teach skills but you
can't teach a commitment to purpose
as easily. There is not enough emphasis
in many organisations in ensuring that
one's employment strategy includes some
purpose matching exercise," he says.
Fittler says a clear understanding of
purpose also flows into how successfully
an NFP can merge or enter into a
partnership with another organisation.
"It's difficult for you to find and have a
successful collaboration with another
organisation if you can't even identify
what your own purpose is," he says.
"Purpose is the critical piece and it
cannot be overstated," adds Wiratunga.
"For partnerships to be sustainable and to
deliver the right outcomes the respective
leaders must strip out ego, strip out the
needs of individual organisations; they
must articulate the common purpose, the
shared values and the resources that can
be collectively brought to bear," he says.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS:
PEAKS AND UMBRELLAS
Across many sectors the Federal
Government is moving away from having
numerous contracts with a large number
of providers, Fittler says. "We see a bit of
a scramble among organisations to unite
in some way, even incorporate their own
new peak entity to be the contracting
body with government."
In other instances NFPs are forming
more informal groups and appointing a
lead agency as head contractor to act as a
funnel through which government funds
are distributed to individual members.
This new entity effectively acts as
spokesperson, negotiator and contract
manager, says Fittler.
As an example, Wiratunga points to
the NeuroCare Network in Queensland,
a network of nine NFPs representing
35,000 adults and children living
with progressive neurological and
neuromuscular diseases in Queensland.
Within the forum, member organisations
explore ways of working more effectively
and efficiently, and they discuss
common issues such as funding, policy,
legislation, service delivery, as well as
national developments such as the NDIS.
Last year the network's founder, Lincoln
Hopper, won the Westpac Community
Leaders Awards 2014 in the Partnerships
for Purpose category.
Elsewhere Fittler and Wiratunga
confirmed that Westpac and Gilbert +
Tobin are working on an updated guide for
community board members, which is due
for release in late 2015. n
The Better Boards conference takes
place 24-26 July at Brisbane Convention
and Exhibition Centre (betterboards.
net). Australian Ageing Agenda is the
conference media partner.
Brought to you in
the Better Boards
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