Working together, delivering locally
Without immediate intervention, the RSL will no longer be a viable member-based charity in NSW by 2040. Here, we look at plans to collaborate and leverage existing resources to deliver a future that will ensure everyone who has served the nation will want to belong to the RSL.
At the beginning of last year, RSL NSW had fewer than 3,000 members under the age of 55. Fewer than 1,000 were under 39. Almost a third of our 25,000 members had already outlived the average male life expectancy. Alongside an ageing and aged membership sat a lack of clarity – of our purpose, of our strategic vision of the organisation’s future, and of our common values.
Fundraising is difficult, and the relevance of the RSL is being questioned by younger veterans who are attracted to the more than 2,000 newer organisations that are meeting their needs without asking for membership.
There’s a clear need for one organisation to lead and coordinate support for veterans. The scale, reach and esteemed record of the RSL in Australia provide the basis for earning our position as the leading veterans’ organisation, but we must work as one and again become the organisation veterans wish to join and be involved in.
This is why we are making strategic and structural change.
We recognise the need for strategic leadership as well as local implementation, to deliver a revitalised and contemporary organisation that veterans wish to be part of. Additionally, a strong, united RSL voice can influence government policy.
The League’s significant resources can sustain and increase membership of all sub-Branches – and must be used for this purpose if we’re to meet our charter across the state. The Strategic Plan recognises the importance of local and community presence, and puts the sub-Branch at the centre.
While acting locally, by collaborating state-wide and by investing and pooling resources, the RSL will have the means to effectively deliver mateship, wellbeing support, commemorations and a means to connect to a full array of professional services to support veterans in need, right across the state.
We want the RSL in NSW to be here for the next 100 years – therefore we’re working together fearlessly towards common strategic goals, while passionately acting locally.
By 2027, implementation of the Strategic Plan will have already turned the tide. Communities across NSW will know what the RSL stands for, what it does and why it is valued as the leading veterans’ organisation.
The RSL will be known for its mateship and wellbeing services, as well as connection to the full array of RSL and other professional services. Declining and ageing membership will have been reversed.
Member numbers will be increasing 10% per year, and the participation of new veterans will have lowered the average membership age from 78 to 60.
HOW WE’LL ACHIEVE CHANGE
The Strategic Plan promotes a ‘pooled’ approach to funds management to achieve the six goals and 56 initiatives.
The ‘pool’ concept has two distinct parts:
- The voluntary Aggregated Investment Management Service
- The ‘Contribution Pool’
AGGREGATED INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT SERVICE
A well-credentialled investment manager, selected after rigorous market testing, will provide a complete service for sub-Branches. By investing together, sub- Branches may benefit from higher returns, lower fees and reduced burden on office-bearers, resulting in more time spent supporting veterans and their families.
Investment of sub-Branch funds is voluntary, and ownership of assets, including any returns, remains with the contributing sub-Branches.
Although there needs to be a policy on keeping investments in real terms, all income earned on investments returns to the sub-Branch.
Aggregating investments across sub-Branches state-wide will:
- Ensure investment plans are shaped to best meet required local demand over time
- Improve transparency, reporting, accountability, risk and governance
- Reduce duplication and investment management costs
- Better match risk-adjusted return profiles across asset classes to deliver the optimal mix of capital growth and distribution for each sub-Branch
Separate to the Aggregated Investment Management Service, sub-Branches are encouraged to fund strategic projects, activities and the RSL NSW charitable purpose by contributing to a centrally managed fund – the ‘Contribution Pool’.
A budget oversight committee, with representatives of the contributing sub-Branches, will endorse an annual budget proposed by the RSL NSW CEO for strategic initiatives to be funded, as well as a four-year budget outlook.
Once endorsed, it will be approved by the Board and progress will be reported quarterly.
As well as funding the initiatives in the Strategic Plan, it will contribute to 20% annual growth of younger members across all sub-Branches. Other
strategic initiatives funded by the contribution pool could include:
- RSL Liaison Officer at the National Centre for Veterans’ Healthcare (currently a volunteer)
- RSL NSW scholarships (creating significant state-wide interest and lifting the profile of the RSL)
- Cadre staff to support and train volunteer office holders
- Donations to RSL LifeCare programs including RSL DefenceCare
- Maintenance of the Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway
- Support and assistance to sub- Branches with small incomes
- Advertising and promotion including Reveille
- Fees for RSL National sport and recreation activities
- Grant application support for sub-Branches
If just the 20 largest sub-Branches in NSW invested together, we estimate the collective savings could fund 15 additional full-time, qualified pension or wellbeing advocates.
RSL NSW is publishing and distributing detailed information about the proposed funding model to all sub-Branches by September 2021.
For more information in the meantime, please review the RSL NSW Strategic Plan.
To arrange a visit from RSL NSW CEO Jon Black to your sub-Branch to discuss the initiative, contact RSL NSW. E: firstname.lastname@example.org