-Directors Needed For The Welcome Dinner Project Board 2022-23

Engagement: 2 hrs per week (voluntary) and attending regular board meetings via Zoom (Meetings will be fortnightly initially, then monthly)

Commencement: May/June 2022

Term: minimum 18mth commitment preferred

About The Organisation

The Welcome Dinner Project is a not-for-profit registered charity in Australia. It is a community-led, grass-roots initiative, primarily driven by volunteers and a team of passionate coordinators across the country. Since 2013 the WDP has been connecting people who are new to Australia (migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and international students) with established Australians over a shared pot-luck meal in local homes and trusted community spaces. Welcome Dinners have proven to be a powerful way to build connections between people from diverse backgrounds and break through cultural, social, economic and other barriers, through the sharing of food and stories with the support of highly trained facilitators. Welcome Dinners help people forge meaningful connections, a local network of contacts, new friendships and experiences, mutual understanding and a sense of belonging, all the while providing much-needed opportunities for both newly arrived and established Australians to make a significant contribution to community building.

The project quickly spread to every State and Territory in Australia and to date over 450 events have been held, involving 12,000 participants and 400 volunteers. The incredible story of the Welcome Dinner movement has been featured across a diverse range of media outlets including Channel 10’s The Project, SBS news, Frankie Magazine, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. In the past few years we have received various awards and accolades, including being a finalist for the “Loneliness Cure” award in SA and winner of the NSW Premier’s award for International Student Community Engagement in 2017.

Current Situation

The challenge: Like many grass-roots projects, the WDP is facing ongoing operational challenges. With a need for sustainable and continuous funding, we are currently unable to employ state coordinators to organise dinners, nor a national coordinator to train, support and oversee the state coordinators. As the founder of the project, Penny has put significant unpaid time into the operations over the last nine years and is unable to continue. With small and short term grants, we can only offer short term contracts and team turnover is high. These obstacles have resulted in ongoing challenges of continual on-boarding and supporting new team members.

The opportunity: Over the last half of 2020 and first half of 2021, while there were fewer events because of the pandemic, significant work was done by the whole team on a WDP Rejuvenation Project. Systems and documents were reviewed and improved, data was re-organised, facilitator training materials and videos were produced, resourcing and fundraising options were canvassed and ethical funding guidelines were developed. As much as possible has been done to progress the organisation towards a more sustainable future. The WDP Board of Directors now plans to build on this amazing work and develop and test future sustainable operational frameworks and further our organisational capacity building.

The WDP Board of Directors, in consultation with the broader WDP team, has proposed to “pause” Welcome Dinners for 2022, in order to focus on the long-term strategic direction of the project. To enable the ongoing flourishing of the Welcome Dinner spirit in the community, the facilitator training and dinner resources will be made available for free download via our website, for communities who wish to self-organise and adapt the model for their needs in the interim.

The 2022 WDP Board of Directors will be a “custodian Board”, solely focused on stewarding the project into the future and discerning the best strategic direction for the continuation of it’s vision. We are looking for at least two new General Board Members as well as a Company Treasurer.

Role Responsibilities:

Members of the WDP Board for 2022 will be responsible for governing the organisation through this period of transition and organisational change. We are particularly looking for people with not only a passion for the work of the WDP but with previous Board experience and expertise in areas such as strategic planning, partnerships, fundraising, co-design, community development, social innovation and collaborative processes.

Time commitment

Initially the Board will be meeting fortnightly, with a view to move to monthly meetings in the second half of the year. The duration of each Board meeting is approximately 1.5 hours. Other time outside of Board meetings is also required. This varies according to the level of activity but is usually around 1 hr per week up to as much as 4 hours during busy times.

Please send your expression of interest and a copy of your CV to our Company Secretary, Asale Collins-Anderson: asale@welcomedinnerproject.org by Wed 25th May 2022.

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