It is with the greatest regret and a heavy heart that I announce my resignation from Community 21.
It is to my astonishment that 17 years have passed since the time when a group of us campaigned for change, and turned the idea of a banking service for the not-for-profit sector into a reality. It was a vision I shared with twenty non-profit organisations who were prepared to bravely invest in the future of their sector, and I thank these founding shareholders for their progressive mindedness and trust in making Community Sector Banking happen.
I also wish to sincerely thank and congratulate the additional 18 shareholder organisations who have since joined Community 21. Together, and with the support of the Bendigo Bank, we have created a profitable and sustainable banking service truly focused on social change that is both ‘for’ us and ‘owned’ by us.
Through our investment in Community Sector Banking, Community 21 has some proud achievements. These include helping to build more than 1,500 social and affordable homes throughout Australia through tailored and competitive financing to community housing organisations, and, giving marginalised Australians a hand-up through 307 microcredit initiatives.
Then there’s act., a world-first model blending retail banking with crowdfunding, allowing customers to create their own social impact by choosing which projects they support through a portion of their own banking profits. To date, $215, 000 has been invested back into local communities.
Community Sector Banking itself now has 11,000 customers, a balance sheet of over $1 billion and through its success, is returning dividends to Community 21 shareholders. It has given over $350,000 in social investment grants over the past three years and has a solid track record of financing social impact projects.
Looking to the future, Community 21 is opening a new chapter. Under new leadership and with the same entrepreneurial spirit that brought us this far, Community 21 will be taking a project-based approach to addressing big social issues as identified by our shareholder organisations. Whilst Community 21’s primary asset will remain its half-ownership of Community Sector Banking, our new team will be looking for innovative ways to create further value for our shareholder base.
Projects on the horizon include a Green Energy Fund, which would help not-for-profit organisations reduce their carbon footprint and operating costs, and, a Back Office Support Bureau – a suite of pooled specialist services to assist small to medium NFPs reduce costs in areas such as accounting, legal, IT, technology, marketing, insurance and human resources.
I personally feel extremely proud of what we have achieved over the last two decades. I wish to acknowledge the support of the Community Sector Banking Board, Community 21 Board, and in particular, Chair David Thompson. I leave knowing that what we did for the sector 17 years ago was risky, but it paid off. It paid off by giving our sector the power to control its own financial destiny.
Sometimes what others say is ‘fair’ just isn’t ‘fair enough’. We stood up for fair. And there’s no doubt that my belief in fairness and social equity will set me on a pathway towards my next career choice, whatever that may be.
Please continue to support Community 21, and once again thank you for sharing my vision. The Board will consider a replacement Executive Director in the very near future, however in the meantime, please feel free to contact Chair, David Thompson AM, on 0419 527 753 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any marketing-related enquiries can be directed to Lena Way: email@example.com.
If you wish to contact me, please phone me on 0408 851 595: