Our Grants Strategist Greta recently helped organise the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand (FINZ) Northern Committee’s first FINZ Educational Workshops for Northland – Te Tai Tokerau, a roundtable session called When the CEO does the dishes: Being a sole operator in the charities sector. 

Read on for her first-hand account of the session, plus takeaways. 

It takes approximately two and half hours to drive to Auckland from Whangarei, and at least five hours from the Far North. Therefore, for many Northlanders, workshops and networking opportunities that are held in Auckland or elsewhere are often missed.  

Charities don’t have the time or resources to travel to Auckland, which means Northlanders (Te Tai Tokerau) lose out on key networking and educational opportunities for desperately needed funds their communities deserve.  

On the Charities register, there are just over 1,000 charities registered that deliver services for Northland, of which the majority will be small local organisations, Tier 4, with annual operating revenue under $140,000.  

Therefore, I was delighted to help organise, on behalf of the FINZ Northern Committee, alongside Sarah Berman, Chair of the FINZ Northern Committee, the first FINZ Educational Workshops for Northland – Te Tai Tokerau. Strategic Grants proudly sponsored the session. 

When the CEO does the dishes 

Dr Sarah Hamlin-Paterson, CEO (and self-proclaimed Dishwasher!) of UpsideDowns Education Trust travelled up from Auckland to present to a full house, with attendees from all the way up in the Far North, and over to Dargaville.  

The UpsideDowns Education Trust believes that every child with Down syndrome should have the tools to develop their communication, confidence and independence, and the right to participate fully in society. They are empowering kids with Downs Syndrome to talk, read and write by helping fund speech language therapy. 

Sarah has grown the charity significantly over the last few years, from a sole operator to several staff with a volunteer Board of Trustees. In the last financial year, the Trust supported 99 new families with funding for their child’s speech and language therapy — the most in one year. 

In the workshop, she spoke about how to fundraise on a shoestring when you have multiple tasks and competing deadlines for your charity.  

Key takeaways 

  • Of the nearly 23,000 charities in Aotearoa New Zealand, approximately 90% have no staff or just one FTE staff member 
  • Prioritising your work when you have multiple tasks and deadlines due is the key to success 
  • Record time spent on tasks, being sure to categorise each task (e.g. administration, fundraising, marketing) so you can review where to appropriately allocate your resources, and ensure you are spending your time where it matters most 
  • Building trust with your donors is critical to success 
  • Know where your personal limits are, and when to ask for help

Sarah also spoke about the importance of diversity in your staff, volunteers and Board, enabling a more representative voice. She concluded the session with how important it is for smaller charities’ voices to be represented and encouraged on all issues. 

All in all, the workshop was a great success and Strategic Grants and FINZ hope to hold more in Northland in the future. 

Grant funding for small charities  

If you are a small charity looking to save time on sourcing grant funding opportunities, check out Strategic Grant’s GEM Local — a grants calendar database designed specifically to help small New Zealand charitable and community organisations find the right grants for them.