The ALSO Foundation is in danger of collapse unless members approve emergency funding from the trust arm of the organisation.
The ALSO Foundation board and the organisation’s fundraising arm, the ALSO Care and Benevolent Society, announced on Monday a special general meeting will be held on April 20 calling on members to pass a resolution to allow $500,000 of Care money to secure the Foundation’s survival.
The money would only ensure the ALSO Foundation’s survival until the middle of next year.
ALSO president Jarrod Hassell said the organisation had flagged the issue at the last annual general meeting and said the situation is “serious”.
“I think access to the funds available will give us the short to medium term viability to survive to the middle of next year which will enable us to re-organise the organisation to constrain costs and to have time to develop … other funding sources,” Hassell told the Star Observer.
“There’s always the perception that ALSO’s sitting on a pot of gold, certainly over the last years. The income has dried up over those years and the organisation has been reliant on those reserves and those reserves are obviously becoming depleted.”
Hassell said the $500,000 funding will go towards employing a full-time ALSO Care worker to work in the area of aged care and disability services and a part-time volunteer coordinator.
Hassell said, at this stage, the ALSO Foundation would not scale back the programs it runs, however, it would restructure the organisation to become more volunteer based and admitted this could mean job losses.
“It certainly could. We’re currently looking at ways to reduce our liability in terms of cost, and that includes head count, but we’re looking at the entire organisation. We’ve assessed the whole organisation and we’ll be making some changes to roles to better suit the organisation going forward.”
“We’ll look at other ways to implement cost-cutting measures … and ensure we can deliver on [ALSO’s] programs and build our capacity through volunteers and move from a paid structure to a volunteer, or at least ensure staff we do have are funded in some way.”
ALSO CEO Crusader Hillis said he believed ALSO hasn’t properly explained to members and the community the work the organisation does and what it has achieved over 30 years.
“Event income, donations, sponsorship and even bequests have become scarcer across the not-for-profit sector in recent years,” he said.
“Whether this is a communications issue particular to ALSO, in that we haven’t voiced the importance and value of our work sufficiently to our community, or whether it’s a matter of not being properly resourced to deliver our ambitious social program is open to question.”
At the organisation’s annual general meeting in November last year the ALSO Foundation reported a $32,617 operating loss for the last financial year.
Up to 15 other GLBTI organisations call ALSO’s Bourke St offices home, including the Anti-Violence Project, the Zoe Belle Gender Centre, Minus18 and the Melbourne Queer Film Festival.
AVP convenor Greg Adkins called other community leaders to lend their support.
“I think it needs other people like [gay and lesbian radio station] JOY and the [Victorian AIDS Council] VAC and AVP and MQFF to step up and use their expertise and offer their services that are clearly needed to pull [ALSO] out of this swan dive,” Adkins told the Star Observer.
“The danger for the community is the… connectedness that’s been able to be achieved by having a range of groups together in the one building and there’s a real risk that will cease if ALSO isn’t able to sustain its tenants due to finances.”
TransGender Victoria spokesperson and Zoe Belle Gender Center working group member Sally Goldner told the Star Observer it would be a loss to the community if ALSO was not able to continue its work.
“ALSO is a great base and has been there to support other groups,” Goldner said.
“I think [ALSO] tried to invest in the future and the risk of that, without core funding, is it’s not sustainable is the honest answer; but it had to be done, it couldn’t wallow somewhere back in 2006 and it can’t go back to 1980 where some people think it should be licking envelopes.”
“The community needs to pull together to help it pull through.”
ALSO does not receive ongoing government funding.