Saying ‘Yes’ to Leadership for Social Change

In today’s dynamic landscape, leadership transcends traditional boundaries. It’s no longer solely about profit margins and shareholder value; it’s about making a lasting difference in the lives of others. Social impact leadership is a concept that embodies this shift, placing the needs and well-being of people at its core. Social impact leaders listen and collaborate to create positive change.

This ethos resonates deeply with individuals like Claire Faulmann, a dynamic leader with an unwavering appetite for opportunity. So when a colleague suggested she apply for a new Board position, Claire’s initial surprise quickly transformed into a resounding “Yes.”

At the time Claire was the CEO of OneCare, a local charity committed to eradicating entrenched disadvantage in the community. Her tenure at OneCare began just days before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Undeterred, Claire began mobilising her small part-time team and 20 volunteers to ensure essential services like food relief and counselling remained accessible to communities in Geelong during widespread lockdowns in Victoria.

Under Claire's guidance, OneCare thrived. Soon she was leading a growing team of 95 volunteers, providing meals for 500 people each week and distributing 1.5 tonnes of groceries to those in need.

Claire Faulmann and her team at OneCare Geelong
Claire Faulmann and her team at OneCare Geelong
“It expanded really quickly because the need was so great. There were so many people wanting to help. It took sleeplessness nights, motivated community-minded individuals and forward-thinking philanthropists,” Claire explains.

“We received a significant community grant from Give Where You Live to make it happen. They came to us and said ‘we’ll take care of the funding, you be the boots on the ground. Get it to the people who really need the help.’ And so that’s what we tried to do. It was absolutely a team effort”.

Since 1954, the Give Where You Live foundation has been dedicated to building a better, fairer society, working to create opportunities and remove barriers so that every member of the community has the opportunity to flourish. Its work includes providing financial support to frontline community agencies, facilitating access to essential food relief assistance, as well as improving access to, readiness for, and retention of quality employment.

In late November of 2021, Give Where You Live was looking to fund another food security project and approached Claire to spearhead the program. 12 months on, the Geelong-based foundation began a formal search for a community leader to join their Board of Directors. Claire was exactly the kind of social leader Give Where You Live was seeking.

A seat at the table on a non-profit Board of Directors

“It was a very formal selection process,” Claire recalls. “They asked hypothetical moral dilemmas to gauge how I would respond. I really enjoyed the challenge and their thorough approach to recruitment.”

Soon after, she was appointed to the Board - the fourth Board she’s served on.

“Although I had some Board experience already, it was on quite a small scale. But Give Where You Live has a much bigger impact and I still believed I had a lot to learn about leading for social impact,” explains Claire.

Upskilling for greater social impact

She decided to enrol in Governance for Social Impact, an accredited short course delivered by the Centre for Social Impact and tailored specifically for non-profit Board Directors. The course offers a comprehensive toolkit for navigating the complexities of governing in today's social impact ecosystem, and was exactly what Claire was looking for.

Through Governance for Social Impact, Claire, along with a room full of like-minded non-profit Board Directors, delved into the intricacies of effectively governing within a complex social ecosystem. Together they explored essential systems and tools necessary for driving change within their organisations, all while maintaining a 'mission-first' agenda. The course highlights the critical role of Boards in optimising strategies for social impact and emphasises effective leadership for maximum effectiveness.

One of the key takeaways Claire gained from the course is the ability to evaluate and use various social, finance, and mission-aligned business models. Importantly, she also learned to identify key trends, people, and strategies that can significantly enhance outcomes for beneficiaries.

“I enrolled because it’s something I really intend to commit to. I’m planning to be on a non-profit board long term, and I really intend to be equipped to do this well,” Claire said.

“I feel really lucky to be on this Board. Doing the Governance course really cemented some of the work we’re doing particularly in relation to systems change and systems thinking.”

“I don’t think systems change is an impossible task. I think it's a long road, but it takes very innovative and bold CEOs that are supported by innovative and bold and trusting Board members.”

“I think if you do this course you’ll realise, like me, that there are actually big gaps in your understanding of leadership for social impact. And this is your chance to be stretched as a human, stretched as a Board member and as a community member to reach better potential, reach your organisational goals and make a significant, lasting change.”

Find out more about the social impact course.