Community Resources: collaborative funding to back a high-impact organisation

Community Resources is a national community development organisation. It owns and runs three social enterprises (Green Connect, Soft Landing and Resource Recovery Australia) and a range of community services. Community Resources employs more than 500 people, 75% of whom joined when experiencing barriers to employment. It exists to create jobs and employment pathways for individuals, groups and places that need them.

VFFF considers Community Resources to be a unique and high potential organisation, whose work is very well-aligned to the Foundation’s priorities.

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In 2019, VFFF approved core operations funding for Community Resources, specifically to fund key roles in communications and safety and wellbeing in their leadership team.

When COVID-19 hit, Community Resources was in the process of consolidation after five years of rapid growth. It had made significant improvements to financial health and important governance, management and operational changes to strengthen the organisation. Immediately prior to the pandemic, Community Resources made significant changes to and invested in Soft Landing mattress recycling. This enabled them to strengthen the Soft Landing business which represents 50% of total operations.

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With the outbreak of COVID-19, this business transition was disrupted and the organisation faced short term financial pressures. Given the previous engagement, the organisation’s business model and operating environment were familiar to VFFF. We were quickly able to engage with Community Resources CEO Jess Moore and with other funders to understand the immediate challenges, priority needs and discuss the opportunity for collaborative and timely additional funding.

Within six weeks, Community Resources had the support of VFFF, the Westpac Foundation and the Paul Ramsay Foundation through one funding collaboration that would sustain Community Resources throughout 2020. The aim of this funding is to support the organisation through the current downturn without making further major adjustments to its operating model. This will allow them to undertake the planned strategic review of the Soft Landing model to further strengthen social and environmental outcomes, as well as profitability to enable reinvestment in the enterprise and its outcomes.

For VFFF, this was a time for funders to be stronger together. We were very happy to share our due diligence and insights with the other funders so that we could collectively step forward to back an organisation we believe in as a proven model for job creation.

The swiftness of this collaboration was the result of trust, strong relationships and a shared vision to create long-term impact. VFFF appreciated the opportunity to work alongside the other Foundations and acknowledges the outstanding work of the Community Resources Team during an extremely challenging period.

“I’ve never been through a funding process this quickly. Different funders have different needs but in this instance, it felt like we could lead the process in terms of our need. We could define the need and the course of action required.” Jess Moore, CEO Community Resources.

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