There are hundreds of thousands of community groups in Australia who rely on the unsung and unpaid labour of honorary treasurers.
Responsible for the financial wellbeing of their organisation, they often go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure ends meet.
Recognising this, the Not-for-Profit Treasurers' Awards have been established to show appreciation of the immense contribution community treasurers make to their community groups, the community sector, and to Australia.
This national competition, an initiative of Our Community and the Commonwealth Bank, is designed to unearth three unsung community treasurers who fulfil the duties of ensuring good financial management, good financial governance and good financial outcomes.
The 2016 awards are due to open in February 2016. Sign up to receive Our Community's free publication, Our Community Matters, to ensure you don't miss out on this and other similar initiatives, or register for notification about next year's awards.
The response to the 2015 Commonwealth Bank Not-for-Profit Treasurers' Awards was overwhelming. We received more than 1100 submissions, accompanied by inspiring and glowing endorsements of our community treasurers.
The winners of the 2015 Commonwealth Bank Not-for-Profit Treasurers' Awards were announced by the Treasurer for NSW, The Hon. Gladys Berejiklian, at a function in Sydney on May 14, 2015. The three winners, selected for the wisdom they shared in their ideas to tackle barriers facing community treasurers, were each presented with a certificate, a $5000 cheque for their organisation, and an iPad for themselves.
More than 1100 nominations were received for the 2015 awards, highlighting just how valued Australia's community treasurers are. This year's awards were broken into two categories:
Congratulations to the 2015 winners:
The Mallee Neighbourhood House Network supports the 13 neighbourhood houses in the northern region of Victoria. The network employs one part-time coordinator; in addition, the houses work together voluntarily. Whitney has served as the network's treasurer for three years. When she took on the role she had no financial training or experience whatsoever, and had never used MYOB (the network's software). Whitney is the part-time manager of one of the network's neighbourhood houses, which all work to create inclusive, supportive and vibrant communities. Her approach to being an effective treasurer is to be open and honest with the organisation's members. She aims to be approachable so that committee members feel comfortable to ask the tough questions.
"It is humbling and inspiring to be a representative of the thousands of not-for-profit treasurers in Australia and to have the responses provided in the award application considered seriously by Our Community and the Commonwealth Bank."
Rhonda has served as the treasurer of Central Coast Kids In Need for 12 years. The organisation provides assistance with accommodation expenses to families of children with cancer or other prolonged illnesses while in Sydney or Newcastle hospitals. Prior to taking up the role of treasurer, Rhonda had no previous experience as a treasurer. She was taught how to do the role by the outgoing treasurer, and is also blessed by having a friendly neighbour who checks her books monthly to make sure they're correct and backed up. A self-professed one-finger typist, Rhonda spends at least two hours a day carrying out her duties as treasurer.
"As a volunteer treasurer I rely upon my relationship with and assistance from staff at our local branch of the Commonwealth Bank and upon assistance from the Board and Committee of Central Coast Kids In Need. To win this prestigious award means we are all doing something right."
Samantha has been Treasurer for Women's Health in the North (WHIN) Inc. since mid-2013. A chartered accountant by training, Samantha is the first qualified accountant to serve in this role at WHIN. Key tasks have been to bring financial rigour and processes into WHIN by applying an accountant's lens to the role of financial governance. In her day job, Samantha is a senior manager, overseeing a budget of more than $180 million. She seeks to apply the same rigour to her voluntary role as a treasurer as she does to her paid role.
"This is great news for Women's Health In the North - we look forward to putting the prize money towards a program to improve the financial literacy of migrant women. From a personal perspective, I am humbled that my financial skills are being recognised as adding value to my organisation and I strongly believe that all not-for-profit organisations should have access to these skills."
Cameron has used the Finance, Human Resources and Risk Management Committee, which he chairs, to inform, guide and protect the organisation through major changes in the form of a multi-million-dollar capital development. This has required him to co-ordinate legal, financial, and managerial oversight. He has tapped into major private donations and facilitated government grants. On the Board, he has advocated strongly for his positions while providing information impartially.
Winner: Large Organisations Category
Waheeda computerised the accounts and established risk management protocols, training staff in best practice. She arranged for the organisation's constitution to be amended to entrench member control, and provides training to ensure staff and volunteers observe the group's declared values.
Winner: Medium Organisations Category
Anne-Maree set up a full range of financial systems for a rapidly growing institution that had to handle customer invoices and account for public funds. She works on grant applications, builds fundraising product sales, organises in-kind donations and sponsorships from local businesses, and bakes cakes for public meetings. SCEG's diversified fundraising strategy exemplifies the recommendations of Our Community's "Six Pillars" fundraising framework, which involves fundraising through multiple channels to aid sustainability.
Winner: Small Organisations Category
The 2012 awards announcement was made by Federal Finance Minister Penny Wong at the Board Builder Conference in Melbourne on November 30. Click here to read the media release.
All eligible nominees were issued with a certificate in December 2012 in recognition of the high esteem in which they are held.
Watch the Q&A with the winning treasurers (facilitated by Brett de Hoedt, Hootville):
The winners of the 2011 Community Treasurers' Awards were announced by NSW Treasurer The Hon. Mike Baird at a cocktail function in Sydney on June 15, 2011.
|Fran Galvin OAM
Treasurer, Community Living & Respite Services Inc., Campaspe, Victoria
Winner: Large Organisations Category
Treasurer, KAGE dance-theatre company, Melbourne, Victoria
Winner: Medium Organisations Category
Treasurer, Wolli Creek Preservation Society Inc., Sydney, NSW
Winner: Small Organisations Category
A total of 513 voluntary community treasurers were nominated for the 2011 awards, with nominations drawn from all over Australia and all corners of the community sector.
All nominees have been given a certificate in appreciation of their efforts, while the winners received a certificate, a trophy and a $5000 prize for their organisation.Read on for more information about the 2011 winners, click here to read the media release or click here to download the 2011 tribute booklet.
Rapid growth can be a challenge for any organisation, but thanks to the stewardship of northern Victorian voluntary treasurer Fran Galvin, it has not proven troublesome for Community Living and Respite Services (CLRS).
The organisation works to provide quality, flexible, responsible and affordable services for carers, people with a disability, the aged and their families in the Shire of Campaspe, 200kms north of Melbourne.
Fran has been involved in the organisation since it began in 1979, signing up as a founding board member and treasurer.
CEO of CLRS, Suzanna Barry, says one of Fran's greatest achievements has been to ensure financial stability for the organisation amid a period of rapid growth. Annual income has increased from around $700,000 per annum in 2001 to a budgeted income of $5 million for 2011-12.
"The treasurer has shared her vast knowledge and experience and has contributed to systems development to keep ahead of growth," Suzanna says.
Another of Fran's great traits as treasurer is an ability to look through the numbers to see the people, an attitude that has helped to ensure that service provision remains paramount for CLRS.
"The treasurer has been an advocate for allocating resources to service provision, with less focus on the 'bricks and mortar' model that locks the organisation into inflexible supports," Suzanna says.
"Rather, she has been an advocate for a balance of leasing and ownership.
"The treasurer has encouraged management to think broadly, to challenge government and to develop programs to meet the changing needs of our service users.
"Fran has listened to the voices of families and people with disabilities in the community, which have been translated into new models" - for example, a new program to support the families of children impacted by Autism and Asperger's Syndrome. Fran is clearly both a steadying and inspiring force on the board, and within the organisation. She promotes broad-thinking and an anything-is-possible attitude, Suzanna says.
"Her passion to assist people with disabilities and their families remains strong and focused."
Sometimes you need an old hand but at other times, it's fresh eyes that are required. That was the situation for Melbourne-based dance theatre company KAGE when Carol Ross joined the Board.
"Carol has brought to our attention numerous ways in which to improve our financial situation and it's largely thanks to her, and the support of the Board, that our next show, LOOK RIGHT THROUGH ME is going ahead and I am getting paid!" says KAGE General Manager Simone Collins.
Among the financial innovations that have emerged under Carol's watchful eye have been the introduction of a direct ticket payment system, an online donations facility and a soon-to-be-launched crowd source funded project.
Carol's instigation of a more holistic approach to fundraising has seen KAGE move from almost total reliance on precarious government arts funding to a situation where their most recent premiere season of SUNDOWNER, a dance-theatre work highlighting the experiences of people with dementia, had no government arts funding at all.
The premiere season was instead financed by contributions from the philanthropic sector, corporate sponsors, matched giving, in-kind support, private donors, earned income and a grant from the Department of Health and Ageing.
"We raised over $100,000 cash from new sources, plus even more in the form of in-kind support," Simone says.
"Working closely with KAGE's General Manager, Carol has established a private giving program for KAGE that reaches out to our strong supporter base with regular communication through social media.
"In addition, KAGE has undertaken a more strategic approach to developing potential donor relationships, with Carol taking the front foot by organising meetings with key stakeholders."
Carol's first task when she took up the role of treasurer was to cast a critical eye over the organisation's internal processes and financial procedures.
"This was a well-needed shake-up for the association and took bold leadership skills from Carol, especially as she was brand new to both the committee and to the role of treasurer. Carol threw herself in head-first," Simone says.
Carol overhauled the organisation's reporting framework and introduced systems that now provide a clearer view of KAGE's true financial position, both current and projected. This has laid the foundations for a vastly improved system of planning and resource allocation.
The result of Carol's work, a stronger and more vibrant dance-theatre company, demonstrates the transformative potential of a confident, engaged treasurer who has won the support of staff and board colleagues.
No voluntary treasurer's job is easy - but the job of the treasurer of an entirely volunteer-based organisation is perhaps the toughest of all.
There's no staff member to prepare the budgets or write the reports; no one else to write the cheques, take the deposits to the bank, file the receipts or acquit the grant - it's all down to you.
Not that anyone's complaining; at least, Peter Stevens isn't.
"Peter never grumbles or sighs when you hand him a bunch of receipts," says Ulrike Schnabel, who is a colleague of Peter's serving as Vice-President on the Wolli Creek Preservation Society committee.
Formed in 1984, the Society works to keep the Wolli and Bardwell Creek valleys in a natural condition. The organisation was formed with the aim of saving the Wolli Valley from motorway development. While remaining a volunteer-based organisation, the Society's emphasis has since changed to bush regeneration, education and recreational activities.
As well as his core work as the treasurer - ordering, invoicing, banking, receipting, preparing cheques for signature and maintaining records and archives - Peter also organises fundraisers, oversees the membership list, instigates partnerships and alliances, and is helping to spearhead the group's move onto the internet and into the world of social media.
In fact, the Society's level of activity - and success - is staggering.
"Over the past six years, Wolli Creek Preservation Society has more than doubled its membership to 430," Ulrike says. "In the same period, WCPS has expanded its financial activity enormously, from a balance of around $5000 and an annual income of about $3000 to a balance of over $136,000 and an income of over $70,000."
A total of nine separate grants were being administered by the Society in 2010.
In the end, though, it all comes back to the connection with the cause.
"While Peter handles the administrative tasks around various bushcare sites and flora and fauna-related issues in the valley, he enjoys his own hands-on time during bushcare sessions which take him up close to the real thing, the native plants in the Wolli Valley," Ulrike says. "Peter always has time to explain bushcare techniques to the volunteers and helps them identify plants to make sure that only the weeds come out of the ground and the native plants thrive."
Thanks to Peter's contribution, it's not only the plants that are thriving.
A total of 431 voluntary community treasurers were nominated for the 2010 Community Treasurers' Awards, with winners announced on May 10, 2010.
All nominees have been given a certificate in appreciation of their efforts, while the winners received a certificate, a trophy and a $5000 prize for their organisation.
|Toni Lawler (winner: large organisations category) is the treasurer of Newcastle & Hunter Community Access (NHCA), which supports people with severe disabilities to connect with the community.|
|Bernadette Stewart (winner: medium organisations category) is the treasurer of Buckingham Rowing Club in Hobart, Tasmania.|
|Ian McLaren (winner: small organisations category) is the treasurer of Bribie Island Orchid Society in Queensland.|
- Click here to read the media release
- Click here to read the judges' citations (PDF)
For further details, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (03) 9320 6800.
The 2009 Community Treasurers' Awards received a total of 265 nominations.
Nominees came from all corners of every state in Australia - from major cities, regional centres and small towns: from organisations big and small and from all sections of the community sector.
A formal announcement of the winners was made at the annual Our Community Board Builder Conference, held on 27 February 2009. The winners in each category were presented their Awards by the Hon Wayne Swan, Treasurer of Australia.
Small Organisation: Rebecca Thompson, Avenel Preschool,VIC
Medium Organisation: Kim McConnochie, Wollongong Australian Football Club, NSW
Large Organisation: Heather Thompson, Grange Surf Life Saving Club
If you'd like to be notified when the Community Treasurers' Awards are open for nominations, please complete the following form. We'll send you the details as soon as they're available.
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