Law and Business

Not-For-Profit Panel Event in Melbourne

On November 12, our third not-for-profit panel event was held in Melbourne. The event was proudly presented by ACU Business, in partnership with ACU Executive Education and Australian Scholarships Foundation (ASF).

The evening was expertly facilitated by Professor Terri Joiner, Executive Dean of Law and Business. 

Melbourne Panel Event

From left-right: Greg Pullen, Professor Terri Joiner, Emeritus Professor Geoff Kiel and Chris Steinfort

Emeritus Professor Geoff Kiel, Chairman, Strategic Governance Pty Ltd, addressed governance challenges for the NFP sector, noting that there is the need to comply with an increased regulatory environment. He stressed the critical importance of carefully choosing the CEO, the board and the executive team to drive the success of an organisation. Most importantly, this governance group should have strong established ties within the community. He also recommended setting up clear communication lines, minimising time spent in meetings and using executive resources wisely. Ultimately, there is no avoiding compliance but there are ways to increase productivity to stay focused on the “heart” and the mission.

Greg Pullen, CEO of Catholic Homes, raised the issue of more volatile government funding leading NFPs to increasingly compete to source donations. Much like any for-profit entity, NFP organisations now have to implement new strategies to stay competitive including training staff, proposing points of differentiation in their offer, building partnerships, and protecting their brand image.

Chris Steinfort, Human Resource Director for Red Cross Australia mentioned that the variations in government funding directly impact staff. His division of the organisation currently manages a large pool of volunteers (34000) and staff (3200) who are deeply engaged and attached to the values of their mission. Red Cross provides disaster relief, and also engages on many other levels in local communities. When funds become available, new projects are launched and new staff hired. However, funding that is not renewed can put a brutal end to those projects. This is a significant challenge for the organisation. They are working hard to shift this culture in order to share the stability of employment with the project staff affected by this unpredictability.

The Q&A that followed engaged the audience of 60 guests, and echoed many of these sentiments and challenges expressed by the panel. The engagement and the passion that could be felt in the room reflected Professor Joiner’s opening comment noting “some say that not-for-profit organisations are the social fabric that holds our communities together”.

The event was a great success and provided the ideal platform to promote our Graduate Certificate in Management of not-for-profit Organisations course, conducted by ACU Executive Education, which articulates into the MBA Executive.

Our heartfelt thanks go to all who contributed to making this event a success, including Professor Terri Joiner, our speakers, our partner ASF, Associate Professor Nasir Butrous, Deputy Head of School of Business Melbourne and Ms De-anne English-McAdams.

Melbourne Panel Event