Mum’s the Word
2 November 2015 at 9:42 am
As the CEO of an organisation that has giving and recycling at its core, Jessica Macpherson loves making a difference in the quality of life for the families throughout Victoria. Macpherson is this week’s Changemaker.
Jessica Macpherson is the CEO of St Kilda Mums, a Not for Profit organisation established in 2009 to pass on pre-loved baby clothes and furniture to Victorian families in need.
Last week the organisation won top honours at the Victorian Premier's Sustainability Awards for its work in sharing the joy of parenthood and saving the earth's precious resources.
St Kilda Mums grew from a working bee that Macpherson organised to sort clothing donated to the local maternal and child health nurse.
The organisation has since rehomed over 50,000 items in the past five years.
As this week’s Changemaker, Macpherson shares what inspires her, her tips for running an award-winning organisation and where her passion for good came from.
What are you currently working on in your organisation?
We are working hard to find a way to employ our first general manager in Ballarat with Eureka Mums, as that warehouse is still 100 per cent volunteer run. Geelong Mums is continuing to grow very quickly as the need is very great there. We have just employed our first fundraising manager, so we are working together on our fundraising strategy for the "sisterhood".
What drew you to the Not for Profit sector?
I fell into it. I started volunteering and it just grew from there. I was surprised and delighted to discover that people working in the Not for Profit sector share, encourage and support each other. Competition is for the for-profit world; collaboration is for the for-purpose world.
How long have you been working in the Not for Profit sector?
Six years. Before that I worked in the wine trade, first in New Zealand and then in Australia. I set up Oyster Bay Wines in Sydney in 2003 so in part I contributed to the tsunami of Sauvignon Blanc in Australia.
What was your first job in the Not for Profit sector?
Two years ago, as the first employee of St Kilda Mums. For four years before then I volunteered, so I consider my work experience in the sector to be six years.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Making a very real difference in the quality of life for the families we help and allowing donors to feel the joy of giving when their much-loved babies’ gear has a new home. It is also very rewarding to help social workers build trust with their families when they are able to access such great quality material aid from St Kilda Mums, Geelong Mums and Eureka Mums.
In terms of your work sitting on a Not for Profit board, what would you say is the key to an effective NFP board?
It’s really just the basics! A chair that sticks to the agenda and the time allocated; a secretary that takes great notes, and distributes board papers a week before the meeting; a treasurer who prepares consistent reports and can explain them in layperson's terms. A committee that works together, agrees on a strategic plan, holds each other accountable and shares a vision for the change they wish to see in the world.
What do you like best about working in your current organisation?
The volunteers and staff I work with each day. The pride they take in their work, the encouragement they show each other, and the consideration they show the families who benefit is a wonderful thing.
I’m always being asked …
How did we get started. I was recently interviewed by Better Boards and it’s brilliant as the 45 minute podcast answers most questions around the start up so I am now able to direct people to listen to that before coming back with more specific questions.
We have helped a establish Dandelion Support Network in Sydney, Stripey Stork in the UK, and now Treasure Boxes in Adelaide, as well as our own Geelong Mums and Eureka Mums. We know our model works, is scalable and replicable.
Where do you feel your passion for good came from?
I worked as an assistant to Susan St John, a lecturer in the Economics department at Auckland University 20 years ago. She is a tireless campaigner against childhood poverty in New Zealand. She made quite an impression on me. Sadly childhood poverty rates in New Zealand have not improved since that time.
If you would like to nominate someone to feature in our Changemaker column, email Pro Bono Australia at firstname.lastname@example.org