There has been a very positive buzz around the office just recently. At the Organisational Review (O.R.) last November a number of strategies were identified to build Palms’ profile and diversify income sources. The strategies identified as being priorities for implementation were:
- Progressively growing Palms’ Encounters;
- Building partnerships with service organisations (e.g. universities or hospitals in our broader network who seek to mobilise personnel for cross-cultural engagement) with a view to –
- Packaging Palms’ cross-cultural training on a commercial basis for businesses engaging personnel in international markets or other activities requiring cross-cultural engagement;
- Engaging Government around the extension of the Pilot Volunteer Fund or similar funding;
- Developing more effective procedures to enhance relationships with friendship groups who assist overseas community development by engaging Palms’ volunteers;
- Improved management of the donor database;
- Reviewing Palms identity and branding.
The challenge to more comprehensively engage various sectors of the Australian community was very clear even before the O.R. was complete. Despite some extraordinary capabilities it also was very clear that this could not be achieved by the current staff. Someone with experience, proven performance and above all, time was needed.
Unfortunately we first needed to replace Marie Gilbert, who worked with us on events and media during 12 months leave from the NSW Education Department. The positive, yet daunting buzz started when I returned from a month’s leave to nearly 100 applications for that position. We narrowed it to 14 interviews and the buzz took on an exciting tone when we realised some could also potentially fill the community engagement role.
Today I’m sitting across from Fiona Johnson, Palms’ new Community Engagement Coordinator. On February 27th Sarah Torcasio started where Marie left off as Events Officer. Each is a great fit for their position and for Palms, but, thanks to Marie advertising some positions for volunteers in our office, they are just two of many new faces adding decibels to the positive office buzz.
We have had to reorganise office space to accommodate a great team of 15 volunteers who are applying themselves to all kinds of roles from research to reception. When asked what attracted all these job applicants and volunteers to Palms most talked of our vision, mission, values and philosophy resonating as genuine and authentic. With our engagement in Fair Trade five years ago we discovered many enthused by ethical social enterprise and this is reinforced by the fact that 80% of candidates saw the Events Officer position on the Ethical Jobs website.
If you’ve been looking in despair at the world through the media lenses take heart that there are still many keen to make positive change. As well as strengthening our volunteer program, our new capacity must engage others so enthused in a deeper understanding of Palms. Our challenge now is to make Palms’ buzz heard beyond the office through Encounters and improved business, government and community partnerships.
We will be calling on members in the near future to see if you too might be interested in helping to crank up the volume in your area. Government especially might need reminding again that we have a broad supporter base, but you might first just turn the volume up a notch by encouraging your friends to join a Palms’ Encounter. See this issue and http://palms.org.au/encounters/ for details.