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Saying goodbye to a platform of our own

3 April 2023 at 2:57 pm
Doug Taylor
The Smith Family's CEO Doug Taylor reflects on the impact of losing a news platform entirely dedicated to supporting the for-purpose sector.

Doug Taylor | 3 April 2023 at 2:57 pm


Saying goodbye to a platform of our own
3 April 2023 at 2:57 pm

The Smith Family’s CEO Doug Taylor reflects on the impact of losing a news platform entirely dedicated to supporting the for-purpose sector.

I have been working in the not-for-profit sector long enough to remember when Pro Bono News began providing their vitally important service 22 years ago.

As someone who has been a long-standing subscriber and contributor, it is enormously disappointing to think that this is the last edition. Pro Bono News leaves behind a huge hole for those of us who are enthusiastic about seeing our sector have the profile it deserves and have access to the information we need to do our important work.

When I think about the role Pro Bono News has played in my own leadership development, I think about the opportunities I, and so many others, have had to share our thinking on the future of the sector. I have lost count of how many times I have written blogs for Pro Bono News or contributed to broader conversations (my first contribution was back in 2008!).

These contributions have helped me, and other colleagues refine our thinking, have our thinking challenged and hopefully increase the general awareness about the future challenges our sector will need to address to continue our long tradition of strengthening the Australian community.

The reality is that there are no other platforms that address the issues of our sector as a whole. There are certainly platforms for fundraising, public policy, volunteering, philanthropy, and community services (aged care, disabilities, homelessness, etc.), but nothing that takes a more comprehensive perspective on the issues NFPs grapple with.

The NFP sector continues to grow which often means that we increasingly fall into our smaller subgroups of practitioners and disciplines, and lose the opportunity to be challenged by different types of thinking. Our challenges will not be addressed by silver bullet solutions but instead the multidisciplinary interventions that are supported by the insights and broader perspectives that Pro Bono News has offered us.

Our work in the sector can often be hard we are busy and invariably under-resourced, and as a result we can sometimes get stuck in our trenches, not taking the time to step back and look up and realise the world is changing around us. This is why a service like Pro Bono News is so important for keeping our leaders connected and up-to-date with the latest developments and emerging trends.

It is tempting to think this development just reflects the reality of most online news platforms and the ebbs and flows of social enterprises operating in dynamic markets. That is all true but losing Pro Bono News is more than that. Losing this platform says something about the limited profile of our sector and our collective lack of appreciation for the importance of our work. Most other industries and sectors of our size would have multiple online platforms like Pro Bono News.

I have been talking to anyone who will listen from our sector, government, and philanthropy about the need to ensure that we have a source of reliable information. I really hope that out of all this something will change, because our work matters too much to not have a platform of our very own.

Finally, a huge thanks to Karen Mahlab AM and her team for their passion and commitment to doing this work so well and for doing all they can to work to a different outcome. A special thanks to Karen who has made a significant personal investment in Pro Bono News and our sector.

Doug Taylor  |  @ProBonoNews

Doug Taylor is CEO of The Smith Family. He was previously deputy executive director at Uniting NSW and ACT.

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