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How to use your time and talent to support Australian charities really well.

Aussies have always been great at helping out in times of need. From supporting other families, to communities, to their country at large. But what’s the best way to do that today and what do you need to know first?

People for Purpose have been supporting ‘corporate refugees’ answer these questions for almost a decade through our Education programs, in particular our Head & Heart Workshop, see more information further down.

Recently, we have seen a significant increase in the number of people with time and great talents looking for ways to contribute to charities. With that in mind, here is some food for thought for those of you looking to start on your journey of purpose during this bizarre new world we find ourselves in.

Purpose matters. So do values.
Start with purpose. Think about a problem in the world you would like to help solve. People tend to look for their purpose by looking out. Reading books, listening to inspiring speakers. But we think you should look in. Start by thinking about the people and events that have shaped your life. Maybe it was your teacher when you were 7 or a family illness later in life. Let this be the spark that ignites your purpose.

Research organisations that work in this space. Education, health etc. Look at each organisation’s values, as often they will look for people who are aligned with their values. Even volunteers. We know that to give is to receive, and you will both give and receive more impact if you are aligned to an organisations purpose and values.

Think about your time.
How much time do you really have and in what ways might you be available? Offering to review a strategic plan might be a one-off volunteer project with a deadline, whereas drafting social media posts may not have a deadline but might have a regular expectation associated with it for a long time. Be realistic in what you can offer timewise, especially if you have other priorities during this time, such as looking after family members at home.

Think about what you’re great at.
It might seem obvious but we’ve seen accountants volunteer as painters, and whilst this is well-intentioned, most of them are not painters (and the charity had to pay to replace the carpet after they left). List your top 5 skills and use those! Are you great at proof reading, engaging people or building web content? Look for opportunities to use the things you are good at or consider offering them to your favourite charity that might not even be looking for someone.

Be patient.
The people working within the charity you’re looking to support are often doing many things, with a firm focus on supporting their beneficiary (and that is not always people, it may be animals or environmental issues), so please wait patiently for them to respond, follow up politely and continue to practice patience. They will appreciate it.

Did you know there are around 600,000 registered charities in Australia?

Do your homework (first!).
It would be odd to think you could jump from what you are doing today into a brand new role or industry tomorrow, without learning a little first, so research and find out more. The for-purpose sector in Australia is likely bigger and more complex than you may know. Look at the websites of those organisations that you seek to engage with, read up on their social media and news posts, and dig deep. Even better read their annual report where you can learn about their strategic intent, wins for the year, who forms their team and Board and even where their revenue is sourced (and how much). The Australian Charity sector has a regulator called the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission (ACNC), and you will find information about every registered charity on their website.

Be respectful.
Organisations in the sector are often dealing with a very complex group of stakeholders from beneficiaries and funders to government. Like many sectors we have nuances around language, in particular how we refer to our beneficiaries.  It is worth doing the research and taking the time to understand the language used by those in the sector, as this will help you connect with them more easily and to demonstrate you really care about being a part of the for-purpose community.

And finally, never lose sight of the beneficiary of the charity, as ultimately all charities exist to address a social or environmental issue. Remember you are there for the person, animal or challenge at the centre of their cause.

If you would like to participate in our next online workshop Head & Heart  please keep an eye out for upcoming dates. This insightful and thought-provoking workshop was designed for individuals wanting to take the first step to learn more about the for-purpose arena, or take a career pivot into the sector, and carve out a unique path to working ‘on purpose’. We will be hosting these workshops online in the foreseeable future to ensure we keep you informed during these unprecedented times.

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