29 March 2017
Great Ydeas is YWCA Canberra’s small grants program, providing up to $2,000 to women to help kickstart a great idea for a business, community development project, or to support professional development or education and training opportunities. Applications for the 2017 Great Ydeas program are open until March 30, and to celebrate, we’ll be featuring some of our amazing past recipients over the next few weeks to highlight what can be achieved through the program.
Caterina Giorgi was the recipient of a Great Ydeas grant in 2014, going on to launch People for Purpose (P4P), a pilot project providing professional development training to support women working in the ACT not-for-profit sector, such as advocacy campaign design, strategic communications, and project management. Caterina is now the Co-Founder of For Purpose, a professional development and coaching and advisory service for NFP professionals. Here, she talks about how applying for the grant kick started her whole journey!
Tell us about For Purpose?
Three years ago I put an idea on paper and applied for a Great Ydeas grant. I didn’t know whether people would like the idea, I didn’t know whether I would get the grant and I certainly didn’t know that I would now be working on the project as my full time gig three years later.
What was the idea?
The idea was ‘For Purpose’ – a professional community and professional development for people working for purpose. As someone who has worked in the not-for-profit sector for almost ten years, I always found it difficult to find relevant and affordable professional development on strategic issues like policy, advocacy, government relations, communications and planning. I also found that people in the not-for-profit sector often don’t attend professional development because it’s expensive, difficult to take time off and not relevant to their work environment.
Where did the idea lead?
In April 2014 I got the grant. Yay!
In October 2014 I surveyed 168 people from across the not-for-profit sector in the ACT to find out how they felt about professional development, strategy and innovation. I used their answers to shape what For Purpose does, including the cost of our professional development sessions, to make sure that they are accessible.
In February 2015, For Purpose started delivering professional development sessions to for purpose professionals on the topics identified in the survey; policy and advocacy, strategic communication, government relations, design thinking and strategic planning. Across the year we held five professional development sessions, with 73 attendees.
In 2016, For Purpose delivered six professional development sessions to 168 attendees. This included our first ever Summer School, an event that brings change makers from across the country together in Canberra. This also included our first events in Brisbane and Melbourne.
2016 also saw For Purpose launch the Professional Community. The Professional Community is a membership for people working for purpose, where change makers can come together to share ideas, collaborate on projects and share resources. As with all of our work, the Professional Community is evolving as members make suggestions about inclusions that they would like to see as part of the membership. We now have members from Darwin, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney all coming together online and soon face-to-face.
In 2016 I worked with eight organisations to develop strategic plans, advocacy strategies, workshops and policy papers. Through coaching and consulting, I was able to work with organisations on gender equality, public health, housing and more!
2016 also saw me taking the leap from For Purpose being my ‘side project’ to it being my full time gig!
All of these numbers demonstrate the reach of our work. But for me the most exciting part of working on For Purpose is the stories that I hear from people who have been involved in our professional development sessions or people who have joined our network. I get very excited when someone emails me to tell me that they used the template from our Government Relations Bootcamp to win a grant or change a policy. I get very excited when I hear from organisations about how the strategy that we’ve developed is paving the way for serious social change. It’s so great to contribute in some small way to so many organisation’s vision for change.
What will happen with the idea now?
For Purpose has grown from an idea, supported by a $2,000 grant, to a start-up social business reaching hundreds of people working for purpose and involving a number of amazing collaborators.
This all started with an idea and the $2,000 Great Ydeas grant. The grant wasn’t huge in monetary value. But what winning the grant did was to validate my small idea and support my project. The grant tackled and beat the part of me that told me that ‘For Purpose’ would never work. And now For Purpose is contributing in a small way to social change. The value of all of that is limitless.
I don’t know where For Purpose is headed because we are constantly evolving to respond to what the for purpose community needs.
But if the last two years are anything to go by – I’m excited to be part of this growing movement.
So if you’ve got an idea, I think you should definitely apply for a Great Ydeas grant.
Want to be part of the idea and join the movement?
Applications for the 2017 Great Ydeas Small Grants program are open until 30 March. Visit our website for more information on how to apply.