By Rachel Kurzyp
Rachel is a freelance writer and a communications professional who has previously worked for Save the Children Australia and World Vision Australia. Read more of Rachel’s thoughts on her blog and be sure to say hi on Twitter @RachelKurzyp
Most non-governmental organisations (NGOs) agree that sustainability and poverty alleviation are inexorably linked. For future generations to be sustainable, communities need to be independent and empowered so they can meet their own needs, be equipped to form mutually beneficial relationships, and put in place systems and structures that contribute to the elimination of poverty. With the increasing challenges to sustainability, including food security, climate change and decreasing availability of resources, it has become clear that we must work together to eliminate poverty.
Like other organisations, businesses and governments, NGOs too are forming partnerships to create a sustainable future. While each partnership is formed for unique reasons, most NGOs seek to increase the likelihood of achieving their mission by combining core competencies and networks, amplifying their reach, discovering new ideas and fresh perspectives, and gaining access to resources and income.
An organisation with a unique partnership model
One organisation with unique partnerships is People & Planet, a small social enterprise based in Melbourne that believes in a more just and environmentally sustainable world. The dedicated team of two part time staff and one volunteer work towards this goal by raising funds for, and promoting the work of, its partner network of 42 Australian environment and social justice organisations. For some of the partner organisations, the money generated through People & Planet ensures the continuation of their work. Most of the organisations are also driven solely by dedicated and passionate volunteers. Three of the organisations which partner with People & Planet share how forming partnerships can help us create a sustainable future – MADGE (Mothers Are Demystifying GE), Familia Moja and Scarf.
MADGE Co-Founder Fran Murell hopes their work ‘may change others perspectives on the world and how they fit into it.’ The group of women from Melbourne came together in 2007 concerned over genetically modified food. Since then they have been educating people about where their food comes from, who grows it and how it is grown. Murell believes people work together to improve a situation because they are guided by human values of caring for one another. This is why many people are finding great satisfaction in going to farmers markets, growing their own food, developing ways of buying directly from farmers as well as swapping and sharing food at local food swaps. MADGE believes through working with others we can repair our climate, create sustainable food systems and ‘eat our way to a future of luscious gardens, farms, fields and wildness.’ MADGE’s partnership with People & Planet allows them to gain an overview of the important and diverse issues other organisations are working on in the industry. Murell says, ‘it’s great being a part of the People & Planet family.’
Shopping and supporting businesses locally
Familia Moja is a home that provides food and shelter for orphaned and vulnerable children in Kenya, but their vision is greater than that. The organisation hopes that people will become more socially and environmentally conscious, that they will consume less and develop a greater understanding of their impact on the environment. Jess White, the Co-Founder, plans to lead the way by establishing a greenhouse, farm and vegetable garden next year that will provide the home’s food, reduce environmental impact and generate an income stream to help the home become self-sustainable. While the organisation helps children in its care it also benefits the community, ‘injecting money into local business, farms and schools,’ says White. The organisation believes the key to a sustainable future is becoming more community minded – shopping and supporting local independent business people where we can. Familia Moja relies on its ‘invaluable’ partnership with People & Planet to help them raise funds for their home. Last year alone, funds raised covered approximately one-third of the home’s running costs.
Sharing knowledge, skills and experience
Scarf is a Melbourne based social enterprise that believes individuality is an asset. Co-Founder Hannah Colman formed Scarf to train and mentor young people who face barriers to obtaining fair access to training and work opportunities within the hospitality industry. The organisation understands the importance of personal relationships, which is why it focuses on fostering social and professional networks so that young people have the confidence and connections to get the job they want. Scarf relies on sponsors for produce, restaurant space and training sessions. Trainee referrals mainly come through partnerships with other organisations. Colman says, ‘Partnerships are hugely important to our organisation. Without them we literally could not run our programs.’ Scarf believes that social businesses are important for a sustainable future as they allow marginalised people to participate in society, reduce demand on services and create a stronger economy. This paired with fresh, healthy, local and sustainable produce will result in a happier and healthier society. The organisation is new to the Melbourne business scene – Scarf was founded in 2010 – so its partnership with People & Planet ‘greatly helps us spread the word,’ says Colman.
Help People & Planet’s partnerships grow
People & Planet, like its name suggests, is committed to helping its partner organisations create a more just and environmentally sustainable world. Since being established in 2007, the organisation has helped to raise almost $350,000 for its partner organisations through the sales of an annual diary and calendar featuring 54 amazing images of people and places around the world. Each beautiful image is accompanied by its own, unique story about one of the planet’s social or environmental challenges. As well as raising funds the diary and calendar help people to learn about food sustainability, global warming, urbanisation, conflict, gender, and the organisations that are doing something about it.
You can purchase a diary or calendar for 2013 and help People & Planet’s 42 partners continue their work.
Find out more
Want to find out about becoming a partner organisation? Contact Lexi Randall-L’Estrange, Project Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling +613 9419 3757.
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