With a recent national survey showing that the pandemic continues to profoundly impact the sustainability of not for profit organisations across Australia, a new grant opportunity could be the much-needed lifeline for many that are struggling to identify and address the risks they face during the current period of uncertainty and beyond.

The Community Business Bureau (CBB) has fast-tracked the next round of its Community Business Grants program, which offers risk-focussed grants in the form of pro bono consulting support and expert advice from CBB’s sector-leading business consultants.

CBB General Manager, Consulting and Business Services, Jane Arnott, said that charities and not for profit organisations continued to perform a vital role in society, with the sector accounting for about eight percent of Australia’s GDP ($155 billion) and employing over 1.3 million people.

“This is our opportunity to get behind our sector and work with organisations so that they can not only weather the pandemic, but come out of the other side in a position where they can go on to thrive and make a difference in the community,” Ms Arnott said.

“In addition to challenges within the Aged Care and Disability sectors that come with offering person-centred services throughout the pandemic, we now also see unemployment and homelessness rising because of the current economic uncertainty and widespread economic and social dislocation. Similarly, the arts sector has also seen massive impacts. That all means that the demands on not for profits’ services are now higher than they have ever been,” she said.

A recent Social Ventures Australia report says that while the pandemic’s full impact on the sector remains unclear, decisions made now will strongly affect whether charities are COVID-19 casualties or partners in recovery. While the report acknowledges the sector’s reputation for operating efficiently with minimal resources, having little to no financial reserve to weather this unprecedented crisis will see many having to stop providing services to some of Australia’s most vulnerable people in the months ahead.

As a not for profit social enterprise that provides salary packaging and business consulting services to over 600 organisations nationally, CBB has developed the Community Development Program as a way to support the sector by assisting community organisations maximise and bolster their social impact to ultimately deliver better services and support to the community.

As one component of the Community Development Program, Community Business Grants provide participating organisations an opportunity to develop the strong business skills needed to ensure they are more sustainable, create a bigger social impact and ultimately do more for their communities.

The different focus of each round of the Community Business Grants is designed to address the most up-to-date needs of the sector, with this round having a focus on Risk Management in direct response to business continuity planning in the pandemic, increased cyber threats, Royal Commissions and clinical care breakdowns within disability services.

Organisations can either apply to have a fully funded and facilitated risk register workshop and development of risk register or a review and update of existing risk related documentation which includes risk policy and procedure, risk appetite and framework and board risk terms of reference.

Recent grant recipient of the Finance Health Check round, Outloud Director Finn O’Branagáin said: “The grant provided us with opportunity to work with experts from the CBB team to undertake a thorough review and develop a report on the income patterns and trends of our organisation spanning quite a number of years.”

“Undertaking a financial health check through this grant opportunity was very timely because I had started as the new Director in February and we recently welcomed a new Treasurer to the Board, so to have a comprehensive review at the ready really helped to quickly understand the financial performance of the organisation and the forward outlook.”

“The CBB consultant made me feel like he not only understood, but genuinely cared for, our organisation. I felt very educated from the review process and being able to look at financial trends that go beyond traditional budget indicators is a very useful tool. While I have a great deal of budget management experience, the process allowed me to take that to a new level.”

“Applying for the Community Business Grant was an easy, hassle-free process and I would encourage other not-for-profits to invest time into doing the same, because tapping into the experience of the CBB team can deliver real results.”

In addition to reinvesting annual surplus into supporting and strengthening the sector through grants and other initiatives, CBB also works with more than 600 not for profit organisations across Australia to develop tailored solutions that address current and emerging trends and sector needs.

“CBB is a leading social enterprise that provides salary packaging services to employees of eligible not for profit organisations. Employees within organisations who utilise our ATO-approved salary packaging services see as much as 15% increase in their take-home pay – so it is no surprise that we find more than 80% of eligible employees take up the benefits,” Ms Arnott said.

Find out more about the Community Business Grants, applications close at 1pm (ACST) on Friday 21 August 2020.