Our Community Group is a world-leading social enterprise that provides advice and tools for Australia's 600,000 community groups and schools, and practical linkages between the community sector and the general public, business and government.
Our Community Group's major offerings include:
Our Community Group is evolutionary as well as revolutionary. We have a number of staged developments and product offerings. Our website and our offerings are always changing.
The community sector
The ourcommunity.com.au website is the national gateway for Australia's 600,000 community groups and schools. Through the site's Centres of Excellence, we provide a one-stop-gateway for practical resources and support for community organisations, and linkages between community networks and the general public, business and government - building capacity to strengthen the community in every Australian State and Territory.
Community groups are absolutely vital for the development of a thriving and vibrant Australia, helping us bridge the changes and transitions in work, learning, technology, demography, social roles and support - transitions that are having such major impacts on our lives in the twenty-first century.
More than 65% of Australians belong to one or more of these 600,000 community groups. Our Community works with individual community groups, members of community groups, peak associations, business and government in delivering a one-stop-shop of essential resources and tools.
Even with such a critical role, the enormous challenges facing community organisations continue to grow. Groups face a constant battle for funding while at the same time facing greater demands on their time and resources through increasingly complex compliance requirements. The growth of competitive tendering, privatisation and increasing demands from purchaser-provider contracts has also squeezed groups to do more with less money and left many groups out of the loop altogether.
Answering the Challenge
Our Community is helping community groups to deal with these challenges by investing its efforts in providing practical products and services to strengthen the community sector. We do this by helping community organisations find new funds, members, board members and volunteers, operate effectively and find good value supplies.
Social Investment: Our Community Enabled to Support Community
Our Community is a self-sustaining social enterprise and has been developed using investment provided by a forward-thinking group of social investors, led by Carol Schwartz AM, our Chair. These are the first social investors in Australia to invest in the first major private company established solely to enhance the social good, by enhancing the operations of the community sector by helping the community sector to operate more effectively and efficiently.
Social investment uses a new model of engagement with business and complements philanthropic foundations, which were established with profits made from business. Social investment enables Our Community to remain sustainable, while continuing to provide essential products and services at prices low enough for even the smallest community group to be able to afford them.
By establishing a sustainable business, social investment also enables cross-subsidisation so that we can offer valuable free resources, including the free online donations service for all community groups, regardless of their size, as well as a huge number of free help sheets and other services. Similarly, Our Community is able to play an advocacy role as an independent voice to speak out about the needs of community-controlled organisations on issues such as insurance, while at the same time expanding the services we can offer to groups to help with their day-to-day survival.
The vision that has guided the development of the Our Community Group is that every Australian should be able to go out the front door and stroll or wheel to a community group; that every single person in Australia should have easy and ready access to a group that suits their interests, passions and needs. We want people to join in, learn, celebrate, worship, plant trees, play a game, entertain and be entertained, care and be cared for, support others and be supported, to advocate for rights and celebrate diversity.
The Our Community Group has developed Australia's community hub in www.ourcommunity.com.au, a hub that assists community organisations that make up the social infrastructure of Australia to become strong, influential, vibrant and more able to achieve their greatest potential and most creative dreams.
Our work brings together a diverse range of services and products and continues to create new and innovative solutions for community groups - building stronger communities through stronger community organisations.
As with any pioneering and highly innovative idea, Our Community was born from the wisdom, passion and experience of a small number of highly committed people. As well, it has developed as Australia's leading online supporter of community groups with the assistance of a large number of people, community leaders, political leaders, business leaders and investors.
Denis Moriarty gained his inspiration from his time as a Fellow in the Vincent Fairfax Fellowships (a program of the St James Ethics Centre). Denis was one of the inaugural fifteen Australians in 1995 to be awarded the Vincent Fairfax scholarship to explore issues of leadership and ethics. He pays tribute for his inspiration in starting Our Community to the Vincent Fairfax Foundation and for its ongoing commitment to ethical leadership.
The other person to lead the development of Our Community is our Chair, Ms Carol Schwartz AM - an outstanding woman, leader, thinker and achiever. In addition Rhonda Galbally worked at Our Community until her departure in 2009.
Then there is the team of staff and family - some who worked even before we started. There were the staff who joined Our Community to do some of the introductory work. And very importantly, there are the "True Believers," those who left very senior jobs in business and in communities, who have hacked the long nights, early mornings, no weekends, the uncertainty of life, love and even work - those who see the journey ahead, excited by the prospect of uncharted waters, complexity, conflict, creativity, lateral directions; opportunities jumping at us every day - all with our vision and values remaining true.
Then there are the volunteers who are adding so much as we try to accommodate the growing voluntary interest in participating with Our Community.
With the inner core, the supporters - volunteers, family and friends, the community sector, government and business - together we are creating an inspiring and passionate future for our community. We seek your support and wisdom in building stronger communities through stronger community organisations.
Our eminent Board reflects the values and aims of Our Community: that a modern, ethical, community sector will thrive and expand in Australia. By combining highly regarded individuals from the community with the commercial world, the composition of the Board offers strong support for the creation of new opportunities for sustainability and expansion of the communitysector. Current members of the Our Community Board are:
Carol Schwartz AM
To ensure Our Community gained great feedback and guidance, we established in the early days a Research and Development Council which we maintained for the first six years of our operation.
Council Members :
Denis Moriarty is the Founding Managing Director of Our Community.
He has a strong background in executive management in both the public and private sectors. He was the former head of the Victorian Government's Information Service, Managing Director of Strategic Australia Pty Ltd, a boutique management consultancy, and former Commissioner and Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Tourism Commission.
Denis is a graduate of both the Vincent Fairfax Ethics in Leadership Awards and the Williamson Community Leadership program, and a member of several non-profit and private boards. He is passionate for change and improving the lives of the most disadvantaged in society, not in a charitable notion but one based on communities taking charge of their own destiny.
He was awarded a Centenary Medal in 2003 for his work in establishing Our Community and he sees Our Community as an organisation to assist, inspire and encourage debate and improve the social fabric and soul of Australia through its 600,000 community organisations. He is an optimist but sadly misses the leadership shown by his hero Paul Keating - particularly the stand he took on leading indigenous and economic reforms.
Chris Borthwick writes for Our Community's newsletters and publications. He has for some years been active in advocacy and lobbying for people with disabilities, and he has written widely on disability issues, health promotion, and organisational structural change. Chris has qualifications in Arts and Law. His previous position was as Managing Editor of the Health Promotion Journal of Australia.
Kate Caldecott is a member of Our Community's founding team and a key member of the SmartyGrants team. Kate has worked in a variety of senior Marketing and Business Development roles in both the public and private sector. These positions have included RACV Group Manager, Marketing, Business Manager, RACV Motoring Products businesses and more recently as General Manager, min (an online IT community business and subsidiary of EMERGE). Kate was awarded a Vincent Fairfax Fellowship with the St James Ethics Centre in 2003.
Kylie is the Executive Director of GiveNow, Our Community's online donations facility, and also works in Our Community's training section. She has a background in grantmaking, community-business partnerships, and communications. Kylie has a Bachelor of Arts from Deakin University, is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and a graduate of the Partnership Brokers Accreditation Scheme. She is a Director of Karingal, a disability services organisation, and has a passion for getting more women on more boards.
Lily has experience working in arts management and has a passion for working in the not-for-profit sector. She honed her skill in data management, working for Australian Tapestry Workshop for a number of years, and doing volunteer work at organisations such as Snuff Puppets. She is a graduate from Dunedin Polytechnic School of Fine Arts, NZ (BFA) and is a practicing artist. Lily heads up the SmartyGrants Service and Administration team
Charlie is an expert on web applications and user interface design, having spent over ten years working in software development and technology consulting. He has worked on some of the largest IT projects in Australia at Telstra and Accenture, as well websites for the smallest community groups. Most recently he has made the Our Community website simpler, faster and easier to use, as well as developing Our Community's cutting-edge SmartyGrants online grants management system, and redeveloping the GiveNow.com.au online giving service. Charlie has a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Information Systems from the University of Melbourne.
Simon has a long-standing interest in philanthropy and the non-profit sector, having been involved with a number of philanthropic foundations and organisations connected to the sector over the last 10 years. Simon helped launch Our Community in 2000-2001 before pursuing a law degree and working as a lawyer for a number of years. He has now returned to Our Community to oversee the development of a number of exciting projects including the SmartyGrants initiative.
Ben is a software developer with experience in desktop and web applications. He works as part of the SmartyGrants development team. He has particular expertise in Java development with Spring, and has worked across the full software development lifecycle. Ben comes from a background in medical research, where he developed software to help evaluate the effectiveness of cancer treatment using radiotherapy. Ben holds qualifications in Psychology (University of Western Australia) and Computer Science (Curtin University).
Gemma is currently undertaking a Business Administration Traineeship with our community, and is working within the grants department, tracking grants throughout Australia. Her chief role is in the production of Our Community's BusiGrants newsletter. Gemma, who completed school in 2009, also works in outreach as part of a youth project.
Amy Johannsohn is responsible for creative aspects of Our Community, handling the design and development of promotional materials, books, newsletters and websites. She also works as part of the GiveNow team. Amy has a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) and a Bachelor of Tourism from Monash University, an Advanced Certificate in Digital Media and Web Design, as well as a postgraduate Diploma in Graphic Design at RMIT.
Elle works part-time at Our Community as part of the GiveNow team. She is currently studying a BA at La Trobe University, majoring in Politics and English.
Alan came to Our Community after working for Involvement Volunteers Association Inc, a non-profit international volunteer organisation with associates in Australia and around the world. Alan has a Bachelor of Arts (Asian Studies) and two Diplomas in Information Technology. Intrigued by the notion of a commercial business providing high quality community services and advocacy, Alan joined Our Community as part of the funding database management team, and has moved on into the role of Marketing and Sales Manager.
Lidia Milevski has a Business Degree from RMIT and numerous years of experience in the banking sector. She performs a range of essential administrative and financial tasks at Our Community, including assisting the Financial Manager.
Rose Mircevski is Executive PA to Denis Moriarty, Chief Operating Officer, and manages the Our Community office and its resources. Rose has an outstanding record of achievement in service development and has worked with a number of organisations where she has held key administrative positions.
Patrick is a member of the founding team and the Executive Director of the Institute of Community Directors Australia, a division of Our Community which provides information, advice, support and membership services for the members of Australia's not-for-profit Boards and Committees, and those who work with them. He is an experienced marketing executive with an in-depth appreciation of how to capitalise on changes in marketing trends, particularly as they apply to Australia and Asia. Prior to joining Our Community he held senior positions with Telstra, including Business Planning Manager for Access Products. Patrick heads up Our Community's training team, a role that has seen him develop a cult following among community group staff and volunteers across the country.
Kathy is a journalist who spent the early part of her career working for community newspapers, in between travelling in Europe and South-East Asia and a two-year stint working in Thailand as part of the Australian Volunteers International program. She has a degree in journalism from RMIT and a long-standing interest in community and social justice issues. Kathy oversees the publications and other content produced by Our Community, and serves as the official OC Bell Ringer.
Chris worked with a variety of community sector groups during more than eight years as a journalist at publications in Melbourne's western suburbs. He holds degrees in journalism and literature from Deakin University, is a hopeless coffee and console gaming addict, and currently serves as Knowledge Curator for the Australian Institute of Grants Management (AIGM) after several years as editor of Our Community publications Raising Funds and Board Builder.
Megan joined the team in mid-2007 as part of a Business Administration Traineeship, working as our Membership Coordinator before taking over the Grants Database Manager role in May 2010. Megan is currently studying at Victoria University for a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood and Primary).
Ruby Schwartz completed school in 2010 and is currently studying a BA at Melbourne University, majoring in Politics and Philosophy. She works part-time as part of Our Community's GiveNow team.
Jodie heads up Our Community's Smartygrants training team, travelling the country helping grantmakers make the most of our online grants management system. Previously, Jodie worked in a variety of different roles from marketing and communications to membership to bank analyst to tour guide. Most recently, Jodie was immersed in the grantmaking world whilst working within the Research and Planning area at beyondblue. Jodie has a Diploma in Business Management, train-the-trainer qualifications and is currently completing a Bachelor of Education.
Harrison began his time with OC in late 2011 as an intern while completing his final semester of a journalism degree at RMIT. One year later, degree in hand, Harrison is still in the office and is now the editor of Board Builder and Raising Funds magazines.
Plus a number of committed team members.
There are a number of people and organisations that have provided us with valuable advice, feedback and financial assistance in order to create this product. There are also many suppliers and businesses that have worked hard to create new products and services specifically for the community and non-profit organisations.
We are very grateful for their support. We look forward to your support.
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2. Returns and Refunds
Our Community has a refunds policy in place for each of the different services.
3. Customer Assistance
If you have an urgent question, don't hesitate to phone us on 03 9320 6800 at any time during business hours. Alternatively you can send us an email email@example.com outlining your query, which we shall respond to within 48 hours - we promise!
"Just a quick note to let you know that we have had our first success
from a grant we applied for through ourcommunity. The Forest Hill Foundation
gave us the full amount we requested to purchase 8 very expensive &
large toys for a party pack for our members to hire for a minimal cost.
"Thanks to ourcommunity we will now be able to purchase these great toys, which would have otherwise have been purchased through our fundraising money & therefore would have taken us longer to acquire. We'd also like to thank the generosity of the Forest Hill Foundation for considering our application. Our members will greatly benefit from this support.
"We have only been open since August 2002 & are solely run by volunteers & have managed to get about 80 members so far. It's groups like ourcommunity that help to make our role much easier. Thanks."
Laverton Toy Library
"Many thanks for the great conference and all those wonderful speakers who have inspired and excited our Community House into moving with the times.
"Our Community has assisted me to receive many grants in the past 12 months and my coup at the moment is one from the Fed. Govt. for $3000 for Aged and Health Care being only 1 of 146 who received a grant out of 1850 applicants. It is through your org. that we have received this."
Camperdown & District Community House Inc.
"Hello all at Our Community,
"Just wanted to let you know that this edition of your (Raising Funds) newsletter is the best I've read. Really practical stuff that has got me thinking ....
National Program Manager
Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA
"I just wanted to thank you for your newsletter. I applied to Perpetual
Charitable Trust in March and have received funding for a family support
worker for three years.
"This has not been a source of funding that our sector (community centres
and neighbourhood houses) have traditionally been able to access so thanks
for the suggestion."
Community Development Officer
Aldinga Community Centre (SA)
"I am currently doing up a training manual on Risk Management for Community Organisations - your website is absolutely terrific and I refer to it often!!
"Well done - keep up the good work - it is so great having up to date and relevant info at my fingertips."
Break O'Day Volunteer Resource Centre
"Just wanted to add another bit of positive feedback.
"We think your service is FANTASTIC! We look forward to its arrival every month and scour it with a fine tooth comb (so to speak).
"May you continue to grow and develop in your most worthwhile endeavours, and also we thank you very much for your excellent efforts on behalf of all communities. Our tiny rural community has benefitted enormously through your work."
Deans Marsh Community Cottage
"Hi I am writing to say thank you for your information regarding grants available to us. I have recently received a small but welcome donation from the Mercy Foundation after reading about them in your newsletter.
"We will be able to run some day programs for children with autism using this funding.
Family Link Respite Care
"Surfing the Net for the past 3 years looking for websites to help me in my job of managing a community project has not been easy. Most have been overseas with little help to be found in Australia.
"I found your site today and have registered to become a member and look forward to subscribing to your newsletters.
"What I have seen has encouraged me greatly with the wide range of relevant information and plenty of tips for finding grants and fundraising and plenty of advice and learning articles.
"Looking forward to being part of this great ....ourcommunity. I will be spreading the word."
"I have just received the first Easy Grants newsletter - thank you. It is very useful (three possible new funding sources for our most needy organisation) and it is very easy to use .... It is fantastic and I will look forward to the next one.
Anglicare Refugee & Migrant Services
"We have just begun our second year with www.ourcommunity.com.au and have received 2 grants from organisations found through Easy Grants.
"We received $6,790 from the ANZ Foundation for communal equipment for our new supported unit complex about 4 months ago, and today were notified that the Danks Trust is giving us $50,000 a year for 2 years to implement a 'life coaching' program."
Crisis and Supported Accommodation
Hobart City Mission.
"I must say that my opinion of 'Our Community' started high and keeps going up - your newsletters are fabulous and the support of staff is genuine and comprehensive.
"Well done and keep up the good work."
Abbeyfield Australia - Housing for Older People
"As a small businessman who until recently also spent up to 20 hours a week doing voluntary work in my local community, I find your organisation and the newsletter extremely helpful.
"I have just added the link to your website to the community website I publish in the hope that both community groups and local businesses will find some common ground and continue the good work that is happening in spite of issues like insurance.
"Congratulations again on all the successes."
Mt Evelyn Township Improvement Committee
"We are thrilled with the response to your online donation facility for our Foundation. Being able to accept donations online has given another dimension to our ability to raise funds for our research into finding that magic cure for multiple sclerosis.
"We are very grateful to you and Our Community for all you have done and are doing for us. Your assistance has been absolutely fantastic. Thanks to you the home page on our website, as well as our donations page at www.ourcommunity.com.au ,is now much improved and I'm sure the improvement will result in an even better response to our fundraising.
"Thanks so so much."
Trish Multiple Sclerosis Research Foundation
"The Easy Grants subscription has, and continues to provide, the City of Salisbury (SA) with a comprehensive and cost-effective source of relevant grant and funding opportunities for local government."
Manager of Economic Development
City of Salisbury
"Thank you for the work you do as this past year we were able to access a grant for $1400 to help with a volunteer program."
Pastor Don Gehrke
Leichhardt Church of Christ
"The Darwin Toy Library received the Easy Grants newsletter which is emailed to us every month. Perusing through the list of grants available for the Northern Territory I noticed a grant through the Inger Foundation, so I contacted them for information about their Foundation and the grant that was posted through www.ourcommunity.com.au.
"It was interesting to find that this specific Foundation was set up by the wife of the then Ambassador from America, and they had been helping families in Australia ever since.
"I sent through a letter outlining the Darwin Toy Library and our role in the community. I had requested a grant of $2000 for the purchase of resource and reference books to assist families with children. We were delighted to receive a cheque from the Inger Rice Foundation for $1000, although it wasn't the full amount requested we were able to purchase a large variety of books for our members.
"I would not have learnt about the Foundation or the grants they were offering had it not been for www.ourcommunity.com.au. I would like to thank you for the service you offer to not-for-profit community groups like the Darwin Toy Library and I look forward to applying for (and hopefully receiving) more grants in the future."
Darwin Toy Library
"I just wanted to let you know about the funding that we received from the International Year of the Volunteer Small Grants program.
"Victory Community Services, which is located in Nundah, Brisbane, received funding from this program to hold a Volunteers Networking and Training Day and Celebration Dinner for our community. This event will be held in October and will recognise the contribution of around 100 volunteers to the community of North-east Brisbane.
"I would like to thank ourcommunity.com.au for their efforts in producing the 'Easy Grants' and the "Raising Funds" Newsletters. They are a great source of information and a great time saver to us.
"Without you we would not have found out about this grant and would not have obtained this funding. You deserve great accolades and have our enormous gratitude for your initiative in providing this service to community organisations around the country.
Victory Community Services
"We are always on the lookout for grants because we have no recurrent funding and I have to raise all our funding. The first we read of the Mercy Foundation grant was in the Easy Grants newsletter.
"We would never have thought of it if it had not been featured in the Easy Grants newsletter but our group is now $10,400 richer. In DEAL's terms that is a very significant amount.
"I think the newsletter is a real advantage and we are very happy customers. It's been a very good investment and one we have certainly been recommending.''
"After exploring your site, here's some feedback: I think it's terrific and of immense practical use (unlike others that try but don't quite make it in real terms)."
"Thanks again for a top service."
Peninsula Adult Education and Literacy
"Keep up the good work. I am part of the silent majority who appreciate the information received, but who possibly do not express that often enough!!
We love to hear your feedback so tell us about all your experiences by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to find out more about Our Community products.
Our Community Pty Ltd www.ourcommunity.com.au ABN 24 094 608 705
National Headquarters: 51 Stanley St, West Melbourne Victoria 3003 Australia
(PO Box 354 North Melbourne 3051 Victoria)
Telephone (03) 9320 6800 Fax (03) 9326 6859 Email email@example.com
I'M ALRIGHT JACK: Reclaiming community in a selfish world
26, 27 & 28 May - Melbourne
It's back by popular demand. See Tony Jones, Ita Buttrose, Professor Richard Wilkinson and more great speakers and get inspired.