Feed the passion

Ros Rice
Executive Officer
Community Networks AotearoaRos 2015 short hair

Why did you originally get involved with a Charity or Not For Profit?  For me it was the experience in my 30’s of going through a divorce and ending up on the domestic purposes benefit.  To quote Monty Python “and you think you had it bad!!!”

The deprivation, stigma, and poverty of those days was pure luxury compared to what is happening to people today.  At least I had a training skills allowance to enable me to attend University while my daughter was at primary school.  Today all extras to help end the cycle of poverty are either impossible to access or have been cut.

Most of us started working in this sector because something moved our hearts and we wanted to help people who are hurt, sad, ill or whatever reason that needs a bit of extra support and care and guidance.  We developed a passion for our work.

But today what I see in the workers in this sector is exhaustion.  Exhaustion with the mind-boggling effort of working on budgets; trying to find enough money to meet the outcomes of underfunded contracts; trying to keep good staff who need to move on to enable them to put food on their own tables; trying to fight the criticism and misunderstandings about our sector perpetrated by those with a mistrust of anyone who isn’t in it for profit, or those who are so sick and tired of being assailed on the streets for money.

The unwavering belief in the market simply doesn’t work for non-profits.  We don’t make surpluses to pay out to our investors and clients are not customers with choices!  Often they are people with no choices whatsoever.  As NGOs shut down because the reserves have run out, or the funding has been removed, any choices that may have existed have been whittled down to whether or not you go onto a waiting list for months or just get turned down directly as there are no options for you to access anymore.

We are criticised because the funders don’t see how we have made a difference. This shows exactly how misunderstood we are.  Most of us are not there at the start to change things, we are the port in the storm, the ones who pick others up when the crisis hits, the people holding out their arms to catch others at the bottom of the cliff.

It’s exhausting in this world as change and new ideology tries to define us all when as independent community agencies we have always defined ourselves.

But Community Networks Aotearoa and The Christian Council of Social Services want to step up, speak up and support all of you to reignite your passion for your work, your communities and the future.  We all have to drag ourselves out of the mire of despondency that is now starting to slow everyone down.

A good way to start is to come to our joint conference

EMPOWERMENT AND SUCCESS: A POSITIVE PATH FORWARD FOR THE NGO SECTOR.

Mark in your diary 26/27 October 2017, check http://communitynetworksaotearoa.org.nz for the link to our conference website within the next few weeks.  Come and be inspired and reinvigorated with new ideas, new answers and great networking.

This blog has been contributed by a member of the ComVoices network

ComVoices actively promotes the value that community sector organisations and their people, both paid and unpaid, add to New Zealand’s economic and social wellbeing through information, and political advocacy and dialogue.

Click here for our website:  http://comvoices.org.nz/