Friday, March 02, 2007

Voluntary Bodies Lack Resources

Many voluntary bodies often give this reason for being inactive: a lack of resources, funds and volunteers to do the things they want.

In my experience, I have found that the fundamental way to deal with this issue is to have more events and activities. And it only takes one committed person to initiate this.

In his article, Top Ten Things to Think About If You Want to Change the World, Chief Inspiration Officer of Success Networks Michael Angier has written, "Know that all significant change throughout history has occurred not because of nations, armies, governments — and certainly not committees. They happened as a result of the courage and commitment of individuals. People like Joan of Ark, Albert Einstein, Clara Barton, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison and Rosa Parks. They might not have done it alone, but they were, without question, the change makers."

A body buzzing with activity is able to raise funds and attract members. In raising such funds, it is able to have more activities, which in turns attracts more members. From those members, you will find more like-minded volunteers, who you can involve more actively in your initiatives.

It is also important to find the most prudent way to achieve the objectives of an initiative, including keeping proper and comprehensive accounts of how the money was spent.

Many voluntary bodies also spend lots of money on overheads. For example, they have a full-time secretariat or they invest in properties as a source of permanent funds. As a result, they are unable to react in bad years when their funding or membership numbers drop.

I have found it is better to outsource such routine tasks to independent contractors. This impels the body to customise the tasks as projects and allocate a budget for such projects. It is then easy to find a suitable provider, who is willing and able to do the project within the allocated budget. This also establishes a performance-based and member-centred culture within the body.

One voluntary body that works using this model is the Singapore Corporate Counsel Association and the work of its secretariat is outsourced to Bizibody.

Interestingly, Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi has reflected about this extensively in his autobiography, "And now after considerable experience with the many public institutions which I have managed, it has become my firm conviction that it is not good to run public institutions on permanent funds. A permanent fund carries in itself the seed of the moral fall of the institution. A public institution means an institution conducted with the approval, and from the funds, of the public. When such an institution ceases to have public support, it forfeits its right to exist. Institutions maintained on permanent funds are often found to ignore public opinion, and are frequently responsible for acts contrary to it. In our country we experience this at every step. Some of the so-called religious trusts have ceased to render any accounts. The trustees have become the owners and are responsible to none. I have no doubt that the ideal is for public institutions to live, like nature, from day to day. The institution that fails to win public support has no right to exist as such. The subscriptions that an institution annually receives are a test of its popularity and the honesty of its management; and I am of opinion that every institution should submit to that test. But let no one misunderstand me. My remarks do not apply to the bodies which cannot, by their very nature, be conducted without permanent buildings. What I mean to say is that the current expenditure should be found from subscriptions voluntarily received from year to year."

Dharmendra Yadav

No comments: