Wellsprings for Women

This case study looks at how business mentoring helped Wellsprings for Women improve its internal management and financial literacy. The result is a stronger organisation that is better equipped to deal with change.

The challenge of rapid change

Dandenong not for profit organisation Wellsprings for Women has had to adapt to a rapidly changing local population with increasingly diverse needs. Overseeing this change has been a challenging process for Wellsprings Manager Veronica Hassett.

“As a manager in a not for profit you are not only the manager; you are a lawyer, a human resources officer, a volunteer; you are opening doors and you are counselling. Sometimes you feel you carry it all on your own and you’re isolated from others.” Veronica Hassett, Manager

Support through business planning and mentoring

Between November 2011 and June 2013, the former Office for the Community Sector, in partnership with Small Business Victoria and the Small Business Mentoring Service, delivered the Business Planning for Not for Profit Program.

The Program featured ten business planning seminars and individual business mentoring sessions across Victoria to support not for profit community organisations improve business practices. This case study was one of the participants in the program.

A mentor appointed through a business planning program proved a welcome support for Veronica. Having an external mentor introduced a new perspective to the challenges Wellsprings was facing. The mentor worked with Veronica to create a work plan aligned with the organisation’s business plan, and tailored to a manager’s perspective.

“Sometimes you get stuck thinking about things from the board perspective, but she helped me detach and analyse what my role as manager can and should achieve.” Veronica Hassett, Manager

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Clearer roles

Having a clear division of responsibility especially helped when determining the best use of Wellsprings’ main building. Previously Veronica had felt responsible for the building’s management. The mentor helped establish what responsibility for this should be taken by a range of groups: the board, the parish owners and Wellspring’s founding order of nuns, the Presentation Sisters.

“Having all that down on a piece of paper helped me determine in my mind what my role actually was.” Veronica Hassett, Manager

Better-managed budgets

Mentoring was also an opportunity for Wellsprings’ board members to improve their financial literacy. Training arranged by the mentor helped them to develop a better understanding of the budget and annual report.

“The mentor organised for an accountant to come in and run a workshop for our board members. We then appointed a dedicated financial officer who helps with the budget. The board now has a better idea of what they are signing off on.” Veronica Hassett, Manager

The importance of volunteers

Volunteers are a critical part of Wellsprings’ success, with numerous volunteers working side by side with paid staff. The benefits delivered by the business planning and mentoring process are flowing on to all involved in the service.

About Wellsprings for Women

Wellsprings For Women seeks to empower isolated women to live their lives more fully. Wellsprings is a place where women can gather, tell their stories and learn from each other.

Wellsprings has adapted to significant community change since 1998, when the City of Greater Dandenong became an area for resettling newly-arrived refugees.

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