It's not often that organisations that are competitors would work together, but that's exactly the purpose of local group NFP Connect.
The group unites local organisations working within the Not-for-Profit (NFP) sector, with a focus on providing practical and helpful advice.
Founder Grace McLean believes that people working in a NFP often struggle with multifaceted roles, without being provided with the necessary training and assistance.
“Basically at its core NFP Connect is about up-skilling those that work in the industry, who might not get support or training as well as give them a place to come and meet like-minded people,” Grace said.
“We all struggle with the requirement to be a jack-of-all-trades and have a little bit of everything up your sleeve and I want others to know they're not alone in what they're doing.”
The seed for NFP Connect was planted in early 2010 when Grace was speaking with other people working in the same sort of area as she did and she realised that there were a lot of shared struggles.
The first official catch up was held in February 2010 and had six attendees. Grace used her networks to promote the concept and the following steadily grew.
Meetings are now held monthly, often with in excess of 50 attendees and the structure has changed since its first incarnation, with a guest speaker invited to present on a single topic each month.
“It's really exciting to know that NFP Connect are able support people to perform their job better, through providing access to specialists and expert speakers,” Grace said.
“We're may all be essentially competitors, but because of the nature of the industry we're in we just love to support each other and share broad concepts and ideas.”
Grace herself works full time with the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) Hunter, establishing and expanding the community relationships and fundraising for the preschool.
Her role entails building relationships with corporate organisations and the community and creating awareness around the work RIDBC does in supporting children in the Hunter who have a vision or hearing impairment through early intervention and education.
Like many of her counterparts, Grace has an extremely diverse job description. In any one day she could be managing a corporate partnership, working on donor management, writing grants, planning an event, helping 3-year-olds to construct caterpillars out of egg cartons or guiding them in best practice in painting or play dough.
NFP Connect generally meet on the third Tuesday of the month at The Olive Branch Caf√©, Hamilton.