September 28, 2020
Keeping pace in a rapidly changing world
Traditionally, the words ‘Highly Innovative’ have not been deemed synonymous with Australia’s not-for-profit (NFP) sector.
Yet according to a recent study of Australian leadership carried out by the University of Melbourne, ‘public sector organisations (are) more likely than private sector organisations to have reported high levels on both types of innovation’.
The same result was reported by CommBank’s Innovation Index, which ranked the NFP sector higher than any other Australian industry. Given the recent extreme climate of uncertainty and change in the sector, stemming from short term funding contracts, fundraising competition, government political cycles and a spike in the level and complexity of needs, it isn’t hard to see why.
This innate ability of the sector to adapt saw it readily pivot to meet both the challenges and opportunities presented by COVID-19. As masks became mandatory across Melbourne in July, Australia’s NFPs stepped up, providing handmade items to those suffering from distress, chronic illness or disadvantage. Approximately 3,000 Sewing for Charity Australia volunteers and 2,500 Masks for Aussies volunteers supplied more than 100,000 free masks to people in need. And Australians responded, giving back by purchasing their masks from social enterprises The Social Studio, SisterWorks and Second Stitch, all of which were rapidly left out of stock.
AVI has been extremely agile in responding to our ‘new normal’. With universities unable to send students overseas with us as part of their cultural immersion programs, we developed virtual Master Classes and Internships run by our experienced team and in-country partner organisations.
As this year’s host organisation, AVI relocated the global annual conference of the International Forum for Volunteering in Development – IVCO2020 – from Nadi, Fiji, to a virtual platform. Due to be held in the Pacific for the first time ever, the conference, focusing on the theme Volunteering for Climate Action, is set to enable delegates to enjoy a traditional Fijian experience (albeit digital) from 26 – 28 October.
We have also been busy leveraging the Australian Volunteer Program, enabling skilled Australians to continue sharing their expertise with Partner Organisations online through a new Remote Volunteering offering.
All AVI staff, whether in Melbourne or one of our 26 overseas offices, have spent several months going above and beyond to live out our purpose, all the while facing their own personal challenges working from home during this difficult time.
I am extremely proud of the way each and every staff member has rallied together to ensure we remain relevant (even if remote) and above all else, ready for whatever the future holds.