Investing in Rural Community Futures Program
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Investing in Rural Community Futures aims to strengthen local not-for-profit (NFP) organisations and ultimately enable them to thrive. It is a grassroots approach aimed at building and supporting the capacity of individual not-for-profits in each community recognising this will have a collective impact on community well-being.
The multi-year program began in 2018 when the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation (VFFF) partnered with FRRR to work alongside local not-for-profit (NFP) organisations selecting three communities - Leeton, Junee, and Nambucca Valley - through a rigorous selection process. The program has helped the communities identify where support is needed and to provide regular opportunities for community discussion and planning for the future.
The Investing in Rural Community Futures (IRCF) program is currently supporting a range of initiatives in these towns including organisational governance, communications and marketing, technology upgrades and fundraising strategies. By supporting such initiatives, the IRCF program seeks to invest in the long-term viability of the local NFP sector.
Now, with the support of The Snow Foundation, FRRR is rolling out the program to the Shoalhaven region, with a focus on boosting the confidence, ability and skills of NFPs in Ulladulla, Batemans Bay and Nowra.
Recognising the value of local NFPs
The quality of life in a town – i.e. what makes it liveable – often depends on NFPs. They fill the gaps where there is most need. The IRCF program is based on the belief that local leaders are best placed to know what is going to make the biggest difference in their community, and by supporting local solutions through the IRCF program and using a multi-faceted approach, our overall aim is to build resilient and vibrant communities.
The IRCF program offers a toolbox of support, including access to a facilitator, grants, participatory planning processes, skill development, and external resources to strengthen community networks and foster social capital through community-led initiatives.
An overall IRCF Evaluation Framework has been developed to allow for reflection and promote adaptive responses, so as we move through the program, we will adjust to community need and allow for new solutions to local problems.
The evaluation focus will be on measuring the impact of the program, the change and effect on the capacity and sustainability of the individual NFP organisations, and on the communities overall.
What this means for the IRCF communities
FRRR is working alongside local not-for-profits in these communities to help them identify where they need support over a sustained period of time. The aim is to give these local not-for-profits the confidence, ability and skills to continue the great work they do, and to help them achieve their goals on an ongoing basis.
From our work to date, we have identified that a successful local community sector is strong across four areas:
- People – leadership, succession planning, volunteer recruitment and retention, training and development
- Not-for-profit structure and internal systems - legal compliance and capability, human resources, finance, policy and procedures, small scale infrastructure
- Strategy - developing organisational plans and strategies, fundraising and revenue, accessing opportunities that are fit for purpose, implementing key capacity building initiatives identified in NFPs strategy
- Efficiencies – local solutions, networking, creativity and responsiveness, collaboration with NFP sector, sharing of resources, recognise that efficiencies can be made due to excessive cost due to the remoteness of their location
The IRCF program therefore focuses on how best to strengthen local community groups in each of these areas.
For more information on the Investing in Rural Communities program, please contact IRCF Program Manager Alli Mudford on 0448 992 820, or via email, or IRCF Program Officer Tony Norman on 1800 170 020 or via email.