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Aussie charity wins Business of the Year Award

25 November 2019 at 3:55 pm
Luke Michael
Homelessness not for profit Dignity has become the first ever charity to win the Telstra Australian Business of the Year Award 

Luke Michael | 25 November 2019 at 3:55 pm


Aussie charity wins Business of the Year Award
25 November 2019 at 3:55 pm

Homelessness not for profit Dignity has become the first ever charity to win the Telstra Australian Business of the Year Award 

A not-for-profit leader is encouraging charities to embrace business principles in their operations after her charity was named Australian business of the year.

Dignity – a charity providing emergency shelter, food, clothing, advocacy and education to people experiencing or at risk of homelessness – won the 2019 Telstra Australian Business of the Year Award last Thursday, becoming the first charity to win the award in its 27 year history.

Founder and CEO Suzanne Hopman told Pro Bono News she was overwhelmed with emotion when presented with the award.      

“We were very humbled and feel very privileged to have this honour,” Hopman said.

“But it also comes with a huge responsibility to use it to shine a light on what matters to us, and to empower people experiencing homelessness.”

Founded in 2015, Dignity has 27 shelters across New South Wales accommodating up to 250 people every night.

While a registered charity, most of Dignity’s revenue comes from income related to its shelter sites.

Hopman said people often asked her whether Dignity was a business or charity.

“We are both. In order to be the most stable, transparent and effective charity we can be, we need to operate as an incredible business, because every dollar saved is a dollar we can spend on someone experiencing homelessness,” she said.

“And every dollar wasted is a dollar we can’t. To operate as a business allows us to be transparent, but also gives us the ability to strategically plan for the future with confidence.”

She added that there was scope for other charities in the sector to operate in a more businesslike manner.

“I think if you truly focus on the ‘why’ of the mission that you have, then operating as a business allows you the freedom to really focus on the best use of the resources that you have available,” she said.

Dignity also last week took home the Telstra Australian Social Change Maker Award.

Telstra group executive of consumer and small business Michael Ackland congratulated Dignity for its achievements.

“Inspired by Dignity’s passion for breaking the homelessness cycle, the judges commended the not-for-profit organisation for its commitment to truly learning from their clients, while building a robust business model that has created systemic social change,” Ackland said.

“The organisation has grown from strength to strength, a credit to its strong business acumen while demonstrating how homelessness can be eradicated through business thinking to provide a viable solution to a real world problem.” 

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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