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Connecting with our Communities

Kate Horrey has a tough task. She has to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars every year just to keep the doors open at what is a vital community service.

Hospice Marlborough provides support to around 350 people per year. To bridge the gap between what the Government funds and what the community needs, their fundraiser has to find half a million dollars every year. This is where Kate comes in. “We apply for grants, we have a hospice shop and great community support, but that’s not enough. We have to be good at identifying and accessing low cost ways of promoting ourselves.”

One of the tools Kate relies on is TrustPower Community Connect, a website that provides support, advice and resources to the voluntary sector. Kate has always been an avid user of the TrustPower Community Connect website, but in February 2011 her eyes lit up when the newly re-launched site went live. “It looks great. I love the fact we can now load up pictures of our events and activities and I love that we can look at upcoming events really easily. There are times when you want your message out there in cyberspace and you need something that is easy to use and is easily accessible. That’s what TrustPower Community Connect provides.”

The Community Connect website is one of the tools TrustPower uses to connect with its communities. An extension of the TrustPower Community Awards programme, the website has more than 2,000 member organisations. As well as offering organisations their own webpage with logos and photos, the site also has a Resources section with information and links vital to the community sector - making it a real online hub for the country’s voluntary organisations. “You can google for information but you get inundated with junk that’s not appropriate for the New Zealand situation or your organisation. Having Community Connect there to sift out the junk and give you the relevant information is just invaluable,” says Kate.

The new Community Connect website is also the online home to the TrustPower Community Awards, a programme now in its 18th year which is recognised as one of the most prestigious in the volunteer sector. TrustPower runs the Community Awards in 25 regions in conjunction with city and district councils and the Awards are actively promoted on the ground by TrustPower’s Community Relations team. The TrustPower Community Awards provide TrustPower with a way of developing positive relationships with its communities from the grassroots up, cementing the Company as a very real and meaningful member of the provincial communities in which it operates.

A tool being used to communicate those positive relationships is the TrustPower Facebook page, which is gathering an increasing number of followers who have taken an active step to be involved in TrustPower’s community relations activities. “In the world of communication, if you stand still you go backwards. If you want to connect with your communities, you have to keep moving forward. And keeping moving forward is exactly what we have been doing with initiatives such as TrustPower Community Connect and Facebook,” says TrustPower Community Relations Manager Graeme Purches.

As Kate moves forward the constant battle for funding continues, but support is at hand. “I’ve just seen an article on the TrustPower Community Connect Resources page which is a funder’s perspective on funding applications. Now that’s just gold!”