The ALSO Foundation was originally created, with great foresight, to provide an aged-care facility for GLBTI seniors. Significant bequests were made to it for that purpose.
But somewhere down the line ALSO lost faith in its ability to achieve this vision and tried to find a new purpose. Instead, it lost its way, and with it, community support.
In the early years of AIDS, before VAC, ALSO diverted its attention to HIV AIDS. It was meant to be a temporary diversion.
But the foundation never returned to its founding vision. It had become an article of faith that it was impossible to build an aged-care home, and other ways of supporting GLBTI seniors in line with the original vision were not strenuously pursued.
Instead, after a period of stagnation, ALSO attempted to become the peak GLBTI body in Victoria.
But by (mostly) abandoning its original purpose, it lost the trust of the community, and income and bequests began to dry up. Why leave money to an organisation that cannot be trusted to use it for the purposes for which it is given?
Now ALSO can no longer afford to maintain a paid staff and run a big expensive (even at half market rate) city office, without plundering the trust funds.
This is the residue of the bequests it has received over the years, to the tune of $530K — money which, morally, it holds in trust for Victorian GLBTI seniors, whatever the legal niceties.
Breaching the trust and spending the money on things like rent, salaries and utilities will keep ALSO going for a year or so, while it “seeks other sources of funding”. But to do this will finally destroy any shred of faith the community still has in the organisation.
To imagine ALSO can become sustainable before the money runs out is wishful thinking at best. If they could raise funding, they would have already.
Shut down at once — stop haemorrhaging money. Leave your inner city offices — seek cheap or free shelter elsewhere. Abandon the unsustainable plan to become a broad spectrum GLBTI peak body. Shed the accretion of additional groups. Use volunteer staff only.
While in hibernation, seek out business consultants who will give their time for nothing. Restructure into a small, lean organisation focused wholly and solely on your original purpose — GLBTI seniors and their needs.
Come back in 12 months and put the restructure plan to the membership and the wider community.
The remaining trust funds, instead of being frittered away, might then stand a chance of fulfilling the purpose for which they were left to you by the dead, who trusted you to use the money for GLBTI seniors. Not to pay your rent and wages.
There is still time for you to do right by them. But only just.