Delivering legal services to empower stronger and more effective community organisations is a core part of our theory of change. By building community resilience, and providing timely and appropriate legal support, we help smaller not-for-profit organisations better understand complicated laws and stay legally compliant.
Kyogle Together is a community organisation based in Kyogle, a small town in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales with a population of less than 3,000 people. The organisation, run by 13 part-time staff and just over 30 volunteers, provides a wide range of essential social and health services including emergency relief, family and domestic violence support, and drug and alcohol harm prevention. Kyogle Together’s General Manager, Sharyn Marshall, first engaged our Not-for-Profit Law program when she worked at another small not-for-profit organisation that needed legal help to change their constitution years before. From that experience, she knew about our specialist legal service for not-for-profit organisations in Australia.
Constitutions are important as they set out the rules for how not-for-profit organisations will operate, including the way the organisation’s governing body makes decisions and is accountable to their members. Not-for-profit organisations also need their constitutions to contain certain clauses to be endorsed as a Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR). When Sharyn approached us, Kyogle Together needed help updating their constitution to apply for DGR endorsement. For years, Sharyn wanted to apply for DGR status, but like many smaller not-for-profit organisations, couldn’t due to limited time and capacity. Having DGR endorsement would enable donors to make tax-deductible donations to Kyogle Together, and allow the organisation to apply for funding from grant-makers and philanthropic bodies who only fund DGRs. Within just one week, we were able to connect Kyogle Together with our member law firm Clyde & Co for pro bono assistance with an application for DGR endorsement.
“Justice Connect’s lawyers were always prompt and really helpful. Whenever we talked, they understood exactly what we were requesting. We’ll definitely be contacting them again for assistance.” – Sharyn Marshall, General Manager of Kyogle Together.
A few months later, we also assisted Kyogle Together through our Governance Health Check, a service offered to not-for-profit organisations funded by the NSW Department of Communities and Justice. Through the service, our lawyers personally assessed the organisation’s governance and legal processes and obligations, and provided recommendations for any areas of improvement.
Sharyn described our Governance Health Check as “brilliant” as it gave the organisation a path to set priorities, and a new awareness of what needed to be done to reinvigorate their processes. By supporting and improving the capacity of not-for-profit organisations to understand complex laws, and facilitating referrals through our pro bono partners, we can free up their limited resources so they can achieve their mission of serving their communities.