Each year New Zealand celebrates National Volunteer Week to recognise and celebrate the vital contribution of New Zealand’s approximately 1.2 million volunteers, in areas as diverse as social development, the economy and the environment.
‘Live, laugh, share – volunteer’ is the theme this year, which helps capture the heart-felt appreciation we feel when people come together to build stronger, more vibrant communities through volunteer service.
Interactionz celebrated National Volunteer week with an afternoon tea with our own awesome volunteers to say thank you very much for all they do. Interactionz philosophy of engaging natural and community supports to be alongside people is vital for us to achieve our vision of ‘people leading lives in communities where all can thrive’.
It was incredibly fitting when one of our volunteers accepted her gift, and she commented that she got just as much out of her volunteering role as she hoped the person she volunteers with gets.
Big thanks to all our volunteers.
Until next time…
Lynda and Lisa were recently interviewed by Holly on Connect with Community Waikato (Free FM). Listen to the interview which outlines the work that Interactionz are doing in the community and our evolution into a social enterprise.
With the fun and festive Christmas season upon us, we owe it to ourselves to enjoy it – but to also look after our own well-being. What you may not have been aware of is that volunteering is a good start. We often talk about volunteering in our organisation as a reciprocal relationship. Volunteers give their time and energy to support the persons we serve so they can enjoy activities and community life – but the gift of giving is not the only benefit to the volunteer. Here are some of the benefits that volunteers throughout the world report that they have gained from giving to others;
Volunteering connects you to others – One of the better-known benefits of volunteering is the impact on the community. Volunteering allows you to connect to your community and make it a better place.
Volunteering is good for your mind and body – We try to match volunteers with a person or task that includes shared interests and something that they are passionate about. We want the volunteers to have an experience that will be memorable and be of benefit in other parts of their lives. The social contact aspect of helping and working with others can have a profound effect on your overall psychological well-being. Nothing relieves stress better than a meaningful connection to another person.
Volunteering can advance your career – If you’re considering a new career, volunteering can help you get experience in your area of interest and meet people in the field. Even if you’re not planning on changing careers, volunteering gives you the opportunity to practice important skills used in the workplace, such as teamwork, communication, problem solving, project planning, task management, and organisation.
Volunteering brings fun and fulfilment to your life – Volunteering is a fun and easy way to explore your interests and passions. Volunteering also provides you with renewed creativity, motivation, and vision that can carry over into your personal and professional life.
You can read more about the benefits of volunteering here: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/work-career/volunteering-and-its-surprising-benefits.htm.
So, for whatever reason you choose to volunteer – whether you receive any of the benefits described, or something else, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for choosing Interactionz.
Best wishes for the festive season to you, and your families,
Time; we never seem to have enough of it! We often feel like time, or more specifically, striking the right work/life balance, is one of the most difficult things to manage in our lives – yet it is something that we can control.
So, what best describes you and your work/life? Are you busy like a bee, or busy like an ant? An ant is just busy scurrying everywhere and doesn’t get much done, but a bee is busy being productive (e.g. making honey).
“It’s not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau
As workers at Interactionz we have many tools to assist in being ‘bee busy’:
- Mobile devices – e.g. mobile phone and surface pro, we are not office bound.
- Wi-Fi connection – e.g. work anywhere and communicate with others.
- Online software – e.g. online calendars for planning and Recordbase for data access/entries.
We no longer need to find the time to all be in the same place at the same time to discuss important things. We just need to be intentional about setting aside the time to connect using the following ways:
- Text messaging.
- Phone calls.
- Facetime each other (on Wi-Fi connection).
- Skype for business (video/audio).
So, what are you waiting for? We have an expectation under our Health and Safety manual that all staff will use their calendars to show what they intend to do and where, and keep this updated on what has been done.
Get planning today! Get all those things out of your head that you need to do (stop worrying), and schedule time in your calendar to get them done. Yes, you will be busy between now and Christmas (assumption that we all have a lot in our heads), so you owe it to yourself to spend the time now. Let’s make it a productive bee busy time!
Buzzing off now – Jen.
This year really has been one of challenges and growth opportunities on many levels, for me personally, but also in my role as a board member with Interactionz. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Tegan Morris and I have been a board member with Interactionz for approximately six years. In that time, I have been fortunate to see a fantastic transformation and growth of the organisation’s practice, which has also mirrored my own development and maturation – both as a person and as a board member.
To tell you a little more about myself and my year…I am an incurable adventurer and story teller, which has led me to some fantastic opportunities and experiences, particularly this year. After several years of working on a novel (Not Always Lost), which I was able to complete and publish, it is now available for purchase on Amazon. This is something I am very proud of.
I have also had the privilege of using my story writing and narrative assessment skills to conduct RBA reporting for the people we mentor. An RBA reports the development process of individuals to staff within the organisation, and can also be used as a teaching device for staff development.
For sharing my own story, I like to make use of my enjoyment of story telling through my YouTube channel. I update this weekly with videos relating to my experience of disability, focusing on positivity, awareness raising, and fun. Through this channel, I have also had the opportunity to connect with other people within the disability community locally, nationally, and internationally through interviews and collaborations to help share different perspectives on the experience of life and having a disability. If you are interested, check it out; the channel is called Tegan meets World, and I have a public Facebook page for the community where you can get updates. Alternatively, you can find the channel by directly searching ‘tmm35magpie’.
Although I have had a significant physical disability with high support needs for much of my life, my disability has not been the biggest focus in my life. I have been fortunate to work with individuals, organisations, and my family, who have enabled me to follow my ambitions and dreams. This is one of the biggest reasons why I have maintained such a long connection with Interactionz. It is an organisation that I feel truly embodies the values of helping people to be the strongest and most empowered people they can be, and to live the happiest life that they can.
Check Tegan out on:
Continuing on from Lisa’s topic of ‘what is business development’ in our recent e-message to you, I thought it timely to explore another question which is pivotal to our organisation. What are we talking about when we use the term ‘social enterprise’? We have been on our journey of shifting our model from charity to social enterprise for some months now, and I thought it would be good to talk about this a bit more today. It is important that we, as paid employees of Interactionz, are able to engage in this journey and be able to speak about this in a way that helps those who we come into contact with, whether it is personally or in our work, understand why we are on this journey.
Defining social enterprise
Social enterprise is a term that is used a lot in the not for profit sector, and if you google it you will get over 31,000,000 site results. Out of these sites, you are likely to get a few hundred, if not more definitions of what a social enterprise is. Wikipedia’s definition is; “A social enterprise is an organisation that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being”.
While we are still learning about this ourselves, we have adopted a very simple explanation of what we (Interactionz) mean by social enterprise. That is – we sell services, and any profits we make from those sales will be returned to be able to deliver our services. These are the services that are currently funded by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Development. Over the past few years, we have refined those services to include whole of life planning, using predominantly PATH and MAPs, and community mentoring. And of course, we continue to provide day services to those funded by the Ministry of Health.
Why the change to social enterprise?
So, you may ask, why do we need a social enterprise if we are receiving funding from the government? You will have heard this before, but it is worth being reminded that we have not had a funding increase for over 10 years. During this time our costs have continued to rise, and despite some great fundraising efforts, we need to find other ways to earn money in order to be able to continue to provide services and remain viable as an organisation.
Hopefully you have all had a look at our website and have an understanding of the services that we are providing and selling. They fall into three main areas; mentoring, training and graphic facilitation.
The mentoring services include what we now describe as ‘foundation services’. This is the area where we provide our government funded services and where most of you currently work. We also provide some fee for service through being contracted by Enabling Good Lives, or privately by other organisations or individuals. This also includes whole of life planning using graphic facilitation for individuals.
The training services are where we train other social service organisations who are working with marginalised people to be able to use PATH and MAPs as a tool. This has to date included other disability services, youth services, and migrant services.
We also train people in organisations in mentoring practices that include things like using the lightest touch. We are able to provide this training as we have become very experienced in using these tools ourselves and can demonstrate their effectiveness. We have delivered a number of training courses and the feedback from participants has been very complimentary. The delivery of this work is really important to us as it means that we are strengthening the capability of organisations to be able to work in a person driven way, and this in turn helps us to achieve our vision of people leading lives in communities where all can thrive.
The third area, graphic facilitation is very exciting. This is a big growth area with a lot of potential. Businesses are starting to engage us to use our PATH or MAPs process to help them think about their organisation’s future and to maximise employee engagement. We also offer graphic recording of meetings or conferences.
Interest in our services is gaining momentum and we are constantly needing to reorganise ourselves to accommodate the influx of work. The leadership team works flexibly in our roles to be able to respond to what needs to be done. We take the attitude of whatever it takes and whatever makes most sense. We are also starting to build up a team of facilitators to be able to work with the different markets, either to deliver PATH or MAPs, or to facilitate training.
These are exciting times and we want you all to be on the journey with us. Next year, as part of our professional development days, we will be facilitating a session with you all to learn more about the social enterprise we are, and to engage you in the journey. We are all in this together…
How quickly life changes – in the few weeks since our last newsletter, I’ve become the grandma of the adorable Fox, our prime minister has called it a day, and Donald Trump has become the president of the United States of America! Some changes are anticipated, while others catch us completely unaware. Right now my thoughts and prayers are with the many people whose lives have been impacted by the Kaikoura earthquake. Isn’t it amazing how some things can put real perspective upon what is really important in life.
Did you see the photo of the cows stranded on the land island after the earthquake? I heard a commentator say that we are like those cows:
“one minute we’re eating grass in a huge paddock that has been there forever – and next thing, everything we have known has been swept away and we are left dazed and stranded on an island! “
I thought that metaphor was both clever and poignant. One thing we can be sure of is that change is constant, so our skills and abilities to be flexible, responsive and adaptive need to be ready and good to go at a moment’s notice.
In the last few weeks my work has become even more diverse as we move into the new space of our social enterprise work. Some of the highlights of the past month for me include;
- Danae and I delivering the last of five PATH and MAP workshops for 2016 which were funded by the Todd Foundation. We have received lots of positive feedback from the participants!
- Laurel and I completing our Certificates of Adult Teaching. We are especially excited about this as it will add credibility to our future applications for workforce development funding.
- I have been contributing to the Business Development work with Lisa and Lynda, exploring new products and new markets and recruiting facilitators to join the casual, external facilitation team. This has huge potential.
- As always, Jen and I are continuing to work together to review and revise systems to support you in your work, as well as meet the accountabilities to our funders.
- Between now and the end of the year, I’ll be beginning a series of MAPs with 17 staff teams at ConneXu. These will roll into other workforce development events in the new year.
John C. Maxwell, a world leader in the field of leadership, says “change is inevitable, growth is optional”. Life has provided us with lots of growth opportunities in 2016 and it’s inevitable that 2017 will too.
A friend asked me this recently, and the question got me thinking. I’m clear about what I do for Interactionz and why I’m doing it – yet it occurred to me that rather than reporting on our business development progress again, you might like to have some clarity about what business development is, and how you can contribute. As this was a newly-created role when I joined our team, there is likely to be some confusion about what business development is, and isn’t.
Drawing on your insights
You are an important part of this team, and have invaluable insights into our services and our market. There are opportunities all around us, and with more understanding you may also be able to identify opportunities that will help us to grow. This would be fantastic and really help us to develop further into the social enterprise space we now occupy.
Reducing dependence on grants
Of course, the reason we are doing this is to create more income so that we can continue to deliver services to the individuals we support. Unfortunately, we cannot continue to rely on funding and grants while they are becoming less reliable. We’re doing this by selling the services we offer in the areas of Mentoring, Training, and Graphic Facilitation. Our website will give you a bigger view.
While business development may still mean many different things to many different people, at its core I believe it is centred around three main activities:
- Customers: Finding new ones and extracting more value from our current ones.
- Markets: Figuring out where new customers ‘live’, (both geographically and in terms of how ready they are to buy) and finding a way to reach them.
- Relationships: Building and leveraging relationships founded on trust and integrity to help us facilitate opportunities.
More than sales
People often equate business development with sales. Although business development certainly includes selling, it involves much more than that. Working closely with Lynda, Janelle and Jen, as well as our external marketing team, Blue Chilli, here are some of the things done in the Interactionz business development role which might help you to see where you can contribute too:
- Keeping an eye on our markets: Social service agencies, government departments, and businesses. Is there enough demand for what we offer?
- Watching what’s happening in our space. Is anything changing? If so, we may need to change too.
- Monitoring competitors: who they are, how we’re different, and how can we outperform them.
- Defining who our customer really is – what size of business, what industry, which departments and people buy what we offer?
- Maintaining a really consistent message about who we are – no matter who we’re talking to (this is something we’ll talk more with you about as we all have a part to play in getting our message right).
- Finding out where our customers congregate. Do they go to certain conferences or events? Read specific blogs or publications? Belong to specific LinkedIn groups? We need to be where they are.
- Tracking the journey of typical buyers. What do they want to know along the way? How can we solve their problems with our services? When will they be ready to talk to us, and buy from us?
- Thinking about customer satisfaction – how can we ensure that our customers are happy throughout our relationship with them?
- Nurturing customers to get new business – with them, and with their network.
- Engaging with partners to extend our reach way beyond what we can do alone.
- Moving to a position of ‘best in breed’, and so becoming the go-to company for what we do.
These are just a few examples of what we’re doing to grow our business, involving Customers, Markets, and Relationships. We are also working hard to balance our growth as our new work and opportunities continue to flow, which is really important to maintain our stability and to be sustainable in the future. This means working out who is best to do what and when, what we need to do to package our services and business in the most attractive and cost-effective way, as well as asking if we have everything we need to be able to become the ‘best in breed’? And if not, what do we need to do, and who do we need to involve?
We all play a really important role, individually and collectively, with the work we do, and how we contribute to our vision. It’s going to become more and more important that we understand the new work Interactionz is doing. There will be opportunities next year for us to come together to hear more about how we are journeying into the social enterprise space, and what each of us can do to contribute to our success.
In the meantime, be proud of what your contribution means for the individuals we support, and be proud that we work within an amazing organisation, doing very meaningful work – every day. I know I am.
Until next time,
Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.
James Cash Penney, Founder of JCPenney
Hi everyone, hasn’t it been so nice to see the sunshine this week. I have managed to get a few rides on my horse, which is always refreshing for the soul! Long may the frosty mornings and sun continue!
The last couple of weeks I have been busy preparing the financial audit papers ready for the auditors. We have had the pleasure of Jude, David and Steven joining us in the office this week, while they review our financial systems and figures.
This year all charities need to report using the new financial reporting standards. This provides not only financial data but also states the purpose of the organisation, and some non-financial data that demonstrates the value our organisation adds to community.
You will be pleased to know we achieved the following for the year ending 30 June 2016:
Total # customers – 107
Total # of volunteers – 90
Total # of volunteer hours – 2727
Total # of individuals who participated in training – 141
These output measures assist us in acknowledging the outcomes which are:
· Creating opportunities for persons to explore and experience a good life
· Creating opportunities for community members to connect through volunteering
· Building capacity in the wider sector by providing training to individuals
It is important to note the link between Results Based Accounting (RBA) which provides quantity and quality data to support our financial reports. When completed our financial reports are signed off at the annual general meeting by our board. They then become a public document on the Charities Services website when we file our annual return.
This process has been another reminder of our continuous quality improvement at Interactionz, which leads me to this quote:
Enjoy the long weekend everyone!
Can you believe that there are only 9 weeks left until Christmas? 2016 is flying past and it is important to reflect on the fact that we have achieved some major milestones since the beginning of the year that are so much ‘business as usual’ now that we forget how significant those changes were in the moment. What we have done is still considered ‘fashion forward’ by most of the rest of the sector: providing community-based facilitation for persons with 1:1 funding and transitioning MSD funded persons from hub-based services to community-based mentoring. What is really validating for us is that our funders consider that we are right on target for the transformative practices that they expect from providers.
It is at moments of reflection like this that I go back to a model of our work that we created in 2010:
Our first level of focus and priority has to be integrity. This is doing what we say we are doing. This is evidenced in our Internal relationships through our implementation of our person driven practice, capability and capacity development of our team, and the capturing of stories of the good lives of the persons we serve and Interactionz’s own stories. This staff newsletter assists in growing our integrity.
Our next level of focus and priority is credibility. This is being seen by others to be doing what we say we are doing. This is evidenced in our external relationships with our funders, our peer organisations, and our community connections. Our website assists in growing our credibility.
Our final level of focus and priority is visibility. This is telling others about what we are doing, having confidence that we have the integrity and the credibility in place behind us. In this space we are growing new relationships with customers for our foundation work, our training and our planning services (thank you Lisa). Our contribution to publications, sector forums and events, as well as our website, assists in growing our visibility.
Every role in the team contributes to this pyramid in multiple ways. Thank you for the contribution that you make.
Go well and live the vision.