Accountant Finds New Purpose at Volunteering Victoria
6 May 2015 at 9:33 am
Former accountant Richard Blakeman uses his extensive corporate experience to give purpose and structure to vital Not for Profits, writes Troy Douglas in this piece first published on intheblack.com
Richard Blakeman FCPA sees volunteering as a glue for social cohesion, and good management as a way to make that glue stronger.
The significance of volunteering and not-for-profits fully dawned on Blakeman after he finished his corporate career in 2008.
“I didn’t appreciate how big the sector was in Australia,” he says. “I got more exposed to that after I retired. I had no [idea] of the professionalism involved with supporting volunteers.”
Blakeman entered the volunteering world during a two-year stint as chair of the Third Age Network (TAN) committee, run by the Victorian division of CPA Australia. The state’s peak volunteer body, Volunteering Victoria, lured him onto its board and put him at the head of its finance committee.
Twelve months into the role, he is reshaping Volunteering Victoria’s internal processes to more strongly support the group’s volunteer advocacy staff and managers.
Blakeman notes that volunteer organisations can underestimate the management work that’s needed to make volunteers as productive as they can be. Governments and businesses will more willingly invest in programs when they see their money being used efficiently rather than squandered. That in turn helps to build recognition for the cause.
At the same time, the right support infrastructure can ensure volunteer work is both resilient and rewarding.
All this means Not for Profits may need to actually devote more resources to developing sustainable management.
He saw the value of good support structures when he was finance director of Kodak’s Worldwide Retail Services arm, based in New York. He also headed the company’s Health Group for Australia-New Zealand and ran business operations in Asia.
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