Funder by the Department of Human Services Auspiced by Our Community

Getting an Initiative off the ground

There are many things (events, groups, projects) that consumers want to organise for ourselves. At Our Consumer Place, we use the term "Consumer Developed Initiative" (CDI) as an umbrella term for all the kinds of things that consumers do - on their own, or with a group, or in collaboration with other mental health advocates, or in partnership with an agency, or as an employee or consultant. The key feature of a CDI is that consumers are in control. The term CDI includes a wide variety of activities - from putting on an event to getting politically active, or starting up a business, to give just a few examples. We found that we had to invent this new language - in this case a new acronym - to be clear about the kind of thing we're talking about - events/groups/projects/etc that consumers are genuinely leading.

There's a big difference between a great idea and a thriving project/group, and that's where these help sheets come in. They are adapted from the incredible resources of Our Community (who auspice Our Consumer Place), based on the experience of many community groups. They are designed to help organisers think, for example about being very clear about what you are actually trying to achieve, tools to get started, or to make the group stronger, more financially viable, or legally incorporated. Click on the links below to access these starter help sheets.

The Starter Kit Download the Starter Kit for CDI's (Pdf 324 Kb)

Growing & Formalising Your Initiative

There are real advantages to a group becoming more formal in its structure. For groups that are involved with advocacy, for example, a higher profile and more structure may be essential. Even for a non-representative group there can be advantages in becoming more formal. These include the probability of attracting new members to keep the group viable, being able to share the organisational workload, and advertising the group more efficiently to get a higher community profile.

These help sheets are designed to help your group or initiative decide if it wants to become more formal and how to go about it. Because we have used materials adapted from Our Community, sometimes we have used the words 'Consumer Developed Initiative' (CDI) and community group and not-for-profit group interchangeably. Click on the links below to access the help sheets.

Money matters

Let's cut to the chase. This is THE most common thing community groups want support with - money: how to find more of it! These help sheets help navigate through the main ways community groups source money.

Treasurer business:

Officially formalising the group

Once a group gets to a certain size (or even it it's small and aspires to great things!), then it's important to have clear structures in place.

Tools to make the group more effective

There are a number of tools that different groups have developed to increase a group's effectiveness. You can try working harder, or you can try working smarter!

Recruit, recruit, recruit!

You can wait for people to discover your group and hope that they stick around, or you can actively seek to find, recruit and retain people! Depending on the needs and structure of your group, you may decide to have a membership, you might be able to support volunteer involvement, or you might need to focus on recruiting certain types of members (e.g. young people). Much as we would love to be able to take on volunteers at Our Consumer Place (and we get quite a bit of interest), we know that we are unable at this stage to support volunteers. It's good to know what your limits are too!

Working with volunteers:

A Committee Of Management (COM)

But wait, there's more!