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EVOLVING CHAIR Perfecting The Art of Support

17 June 2015 at 11:22 am
Lina Caneva
The best Not for Profit Board Members are those with a genuine and selfless desire to contribute and a real passion for the cause, says Ben Dortimer, this month’s Evolving Chair.

Lina Caneva | 17 June 2015 at 11:22 am


EVOLVING CHAIR Perfecting The Art of Support
17 June 2015 at 11:22 am

The best Not for Profit Board Members are those with a genuine and selfless desire to contribute and a real passion for the cause, says Ben Dortimer, this month’s Evolving Chair.

Dortimer is the Chairman of the Mirabel Foundation, a charity that supports children who have been orphaned or abandoned due to illicit parental drug use.  

He is also the Owner and Managing Director of Micador Group, a company that designs and creates art, craft, stationery, toy and education products.  Micador now sells to over 10 countries around the world.

Dortimer first became involved with Mirabel donating art materials for gifts and art therapy. His involvement grew culminating in him joining the Board of Management in 2007.

Mirabel was established in Victoria 1998 and works with over 1500 children aged between 0 and 17 years.  

What is your organisation and what is the board structure?

The Mirabel Foundation is an organisation that supports children orphaned or abandoned due to parental illicit drug use.

The Board of Management includes the Founder / CEO, the Accountant and a selected group of passionate supporters, with a varied and valuable skill set.

What attracts you to a Not for Profit or for-profit board?

Having been involved supporting Mirabel since 2001, I found myself wanting to provide more than just financial and network support, I wanted to give my most scarce and valuable resource, time.  As a passionate Mirabel person, the more I helped, the more I wanted to help and in 2007, Jane Rowe invited me to join the Board.  Since then I have progressed to become Treasurer and now Chairman.

My attraction is based on my passion for the cause of helping Australian children in need and my desire to be in a role where I can maximise the impact I can make.

What is the biggest challenge your board has had to overcome? And how did you overcome it?

The one great challenge we continue to face is that demand for our services is continuing to grow at an accelerating rate.  We are now accepting almost 10 new children a week and the demands on our team and structures are outpacing our growth in revenue.

We’re committed to never turning a child away, so we continue to focus successfully on making our service delivery more efficient.

What is your board’s ultimate goal?

The board’s ultimate goal is to build a financially sustainable organisation that can deliver uncompromised service and support to our ever growing group of children in need.  This support works at restoring a child’s sense of self-worth, belonging and hope for the future in order for them to reach their full potential as young adults.

What has been the highlight of your work with this board?

There have been many highlights, but some of the most memorable are when Board members, that I have personally recruited, deliver successful outcomes for the organisation, through their own initiatives.

Do you have any advice around recruitment?

Identify all the attributes you need on the Board with a skills matrix and recruit to fill those specific needs.

Balance the search for skills with a genuine passion for the cause.  Many people love the idea of being on a Not for Profit board, but that is often for personal, not altruistic reasons. Try to find the people who have a genuine and selfless desire to contribute and who are passionate about your organisation’s unique cause or mission.

Know a great Board Chair? Email us at to be featured in the Evolving Chair. 

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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