Community Scoop

What would a joined up approach look like?

dianne-armstrongcropppedDianne Armstrong | Arthritis New Zealand

Over recent years there have been gentle suggestions from a variety of sources that NZ has too many charities and perhaps some merging of those with very similar missions may be beneficial. But we seem to have a need to create a new entity that supports our passion and therefore the notion of some togetherness has gathered no traction.

The number of registered charities from the Charities Services website stands at 27,259 and this continues to increase. I’m sure like me most weeks you notice a media story about a new health/disability charity.

Perhaps the horse has bolted in terms of reducing the number of charities but is it time for a collective rethink on the coherence of the sector. If our messaging to consumers/clients utilised the ‘power of one’ would we get more cut through?

For example, there are many conditions that have the same risk factors – weight management, diet, exercise. If for example you have diabetes it is likely that you have a co-morbidity of arthritis or a heart condition.

Once diagnosed are we bombarding customers with messaging from multi agencies. How many different wellness or exercise Apps do I need on my phone? Would those messages have a greater impact if somehow, they came from one source? Would the client see that as more powerful?

We are warned of the number of cars in driveways from various agencies supporting the same family or individual. Gosh could we share our messages and possibly share the cost of staff members who visit – is that a thought too far???

Surely there would be cost efficiencies in multiple agencies sharing and creating opportunities for these messages such as leaflets, websites, apps, TV.

But then from afar I can see the cloud barriers forming. Brand protection. Will a joint message impact my income generation and support let alone can we agree on a message? Will my agency get lost in this collective? How will we decide the financial contribution of each entity?

If all charities have a ‘wellness’ focus and working towards supporting their clients is it not reasonable to think as professionals focused on the health of New Zealanders, we could sit down together and find solutions towards cohesive messaging.

Can we shift our strategy and think of what’s best for those we are supporting? The impact and clarity of the material they receive would be difficult to deny. Then there is the possible savings to charities, one leaflet or flier instead of multiple. Sharing resources both financial and personnel to create new means of communication and initiatives.

Yes, this would take discussion, but can we put our clients and New Zealanders first and find a solution or are we set on creating multiple SAME messages into the future.

The challenge is ours. Most charities are part ‘umbrella’ groups. Let’s start the conversation.


This blog has been contributed by a member of the ComVoices network. The views presented here are not necessarily those of ComVoices.

ComVoices is a Wellington based network of national community and voluntary sector organisations. It was established so that sector organisations would have a more powerful voice at Government level and in the community.

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