Catholic non-profits must be more business-like, says investment expert

Catholic organisations need to engage more with the business sector in order to learn better organisational methods as well as to improve fundraising and lobbying, an investment industry leader has told a Catholic Social Services conference.

The Financial Standard reports that Investment and Financial Services Association (IFSA) chief executive officer, Richard Gilbert, told a Catholic Social Services Australia (CSSA) conference this week that the not-for-profit sector needs to get more involved with industry and the community in order to wage successful lobbying campaigns.

Mr Gilbert said a successful campaign largely depended on the role organisations played in the wider community, the strength of their brand and managing themselves like a "corporate board".

"I said whichever organisation it is, be it financial or not-for-profit, should run it like a business, have levels of objectives, be accountable, promote success and be united like a business or a corporate board," Mr Gilbert told the Financial Standard.

Companies, regardless of what they're doing, are part of the community, he added.

Mr Gilbert said community support could be made via a financial arrangement, the contribution of resources or simply through statements of support of community issues.

"From a business perspective, I still think Australian groups could engage better. If you look at the models adopted overseas we could learn a lot about the size of the giving. It could be a lot bigger," he said.

Mr Gilbert also urged organisations to build brand by sponsoring worthy causes, citing IFSA's sponsorship of the Inspire Foundation on mental health and its recognition in life insurance cover. "But that is just soft advocacy."

"It is critical for branding for people see what you are doing, and it shows the community that people behind the business community have causes."

Mr Gilbert urged the not-for-profit sector to engage with industry associations and government in what he called "interesting times for the social welfare movement."

"One thing we did agree on is that we need a strong aged pension system. I said in the future if they have issues on that they can come and talk with us," Gilbert concluded.

Not-for-profit needs to engage with industry: IFSA (Financial Standard, 19/10/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Investment and Financial Services Australia
Catholic Social Services

Good Samaritans get Catholic awards (CathNews, 18/10/06)

20 Oct 2006