Be Creative - Be Sustainable - Mindfully Make

The infamous F-word, the M-word and the lesser known V-word
 
For those of you who know me, you know how I love to swear. They say swearing’s a sign of honesty and an ability to express yourself, which lord knows I can do loudly.  But no, my favourite f-word is not that word. It’s FUNDING - a term I’d love to meet more often; a rarity in reality. 
 
Everyone working in any New Zealand charity, government department, NGO, social enterprise and even those in business shares my love affair with the f-word. No-one can ever get enough. Maybe we should just talk about the m-word instead – the tree we all want in our garden – MONEY.  It makes the world go round and can be the catalyst to make things happen, which, in my case, means lots of positive sustainable, local employment things. 
 
The f-word is elusive in a country that is struggling to come to terms with taxation, especially how it should be gathered and, in the longer term, spent on innovation and social programmes. Nearly every conversation on Radio New Zealand is about some study, cause or innovation that needs more of the f-word. But, you must tread carefully with the f-word: be strategic, plan well and spend it wisely. Or you may never see it again. 
 
As a start-up with no reputation and limited visibility, funding is hard to get my hands on. ‘Fair nuff” – I hear you say. Therefore, my f-word shortage forces me to be more innovative.
 
So, I’ve decided to put more emphasis on the v-word: VOLUNTEER.  Oh, how I love these people. They’re full of skills and enthusiasm, and best of all, in the normal world they’d charge an absolute fortune, but, for a good cause, they’ll give a few hours or days of their skills for free. They help the world when there is not enough funding. 

I have one volunteer, Daria Chernova, who spent three days travelling around the city with me videoing our ReCreators, so that we have enough engaging video content for the year. She’s dedicated and hardworking.  When I hear people whinging about millennials, I have no idea what they’re on about.  I’ve also been incredibly lucky to have an intern from the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) offer their skills to this social enterprise.  Check out my Instagram – I am useless at marketing and design, and so Melanie Kit has been my saving grace. Next time you see a wonderful quote or picture, know it’s not me. 

 
I have also discovered the most fabulous online service called www.Helptank.nz and a woman from my own land (Ireland) called Vashi Wood.  She’s a good woman, who does great work helping lots of different organisations around New Zealand. Those who join up to HelpTank are skilled in copywriting, videography, photography, IT, research and marketing, to name a few. Such skills are invaluable in getting a cause up and going when there is no other help around.


 
To HelpTank and its volunteers, I am overwhelmed with the support I’ve received and cannot thank you enough. As soon as I post a small project, there’s a volunteer ready to help.  We have a quick Zoom call to discuss the details and the project is delegated. 
 
So now, I just rely on the f-word for practical things like materials, venue hire, search engine optimisation (SEO), website hosting and other non-human overheads.  But, by having the support of volunteers, my life is 50% easier. Volunteers get me moving in areas that I can’t easily do myself.
 
This blog was voluntarily edited by Katie Rickson Copywriting and Editing.
 
Volunteering through HelpTank
 
HelpTank makes it easier for professionals to find skilled volunteering opportunities and enable them to give their skills pro bono for social good, as well as help community organisations find the support they need.  Not every community organisation is connected enough to have pro bono help at their fingertips, nor do they always have the capacity to outsource a project when ad-hoc help is offered.
 
HelpTank works with community organisations to help list their projects they need help with and notify volunteers with a skill match. The rest is up to the volunteers and community organisations to connect and work together towards a successful outcome!
 
The idea of project-based, skilled volunteering is still new for community organisations. It’s an important way of bringing specialised skills and knowledge to an often stretched community sector, whether the enterprise is at start-up stage or further down the track.  Compared to the traditional approach of trying to get often oversubscribed funding to pay for skilled support, volunteering can be a vital resource which community organisations can tap into when they have a need for a specific project. It's also an additional resource to enhance existing projects, increase efficiency and bring business know-how to the community sector.  
 
Here’s what HelpTank volunteers say about volunteering:
 
‘I think HelpTank is a fabulous idea and provides so much opportunity for volunteers as well as organisations’

‘Small investment of my time for a massive reward in terms of helping to make a difference. Thanks for bringing us together HelpTank’
 
‘Personally, wonderful to contribute to something that gives so much to our community.’
 
‘It always makes a difference…no matter what size cog you are in the wheel’
 
 
Final thoughts on my favourite words
 
HelpTank estimate that each volunteer’s rate can be anywhere between $60 and $150 per hour.  So, the value of their work is huge.  Volunteering encourages businesses to contribute both socially and environmentally so that they can access this support.  Coz, if you’re just in it for the money – then you’re gonna have to pay top dollar for all this support. 
 
Volunteering is people power in action.  If you want to know how you can help this planet or the people on it, use your skills for good. Pick a cause and donate 2-3 hours a week.  If everyone did this, our planet would function so much more effectively and fairly.
 
Think social in your business – it’s worth it in the long run. 
 
 

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