Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

The Friends of St Brigid’s (FoSB) Association Inc is a community organisation formed in 2006 after the closure of the local Church and Hall in Crossley, Victoria. The group purchased the buildings and are now caretakers of the five-acre community-owned and operated precinct which celebrates 150 years of unique Australian Irish history in south-west Victoria. The facilities include a 1914 Romanesque Church and community hall, home to the St Brigid’s Australian Irish Cultural, Heritage and Community Centre, and have evolved to include the Crossley Men’s Shed and peace and healing gardens.

FoSB has a long partnership with FRRR, opening a Not-for-Profit Fundraising Account in 2011, which was subsequently renewed in regularly in the intervening years, and again this year. The Fundraising Account assists them to raise much needed funds to contribute to ongoing facilities upgrades that allow people of all abilities to access and participate in activities at the precinct. 

FoSB’s typically holds many events during the year through which much of their income is generated. However, like many community organisations, the onset of COVID-19 brought a halt to their regular events such as concerts and hiring out facilities for public and private events. 

The year had started out well, with a Blues & Roots Festival in early January, two private family functions in February, and then two events in March. However, they were left with a COVID-quandary – how to find alternative ways to raise funds and / or reduce their overheads.

FoSB Treasurer Sue Elms said their first action was to request relief from paying their monthly mortgage instalments and insurance premiums. While that granted them a brief reprieve, the stark reality remained that they still had to find the funds for future payments.

This led to the organising committee donning their thinking caps, with considerable success thanks to the enthusiasm of their Committee Members and many volunteers, which highlighted the tenacity and commitment of FoSB’s.

They came up with a list of alternate fundraisers, which included the Men’s Shedders cleaning and reselling 600+ old bricks; a bus outing with appropriate social distancing measures in place; a walk and talk event, which was a great financial and social success; a letter of appeal was sent out to members and past supporters; and a 50:50 raffle raised more than $2,500.

FRRR’s Philanthropic Services Manager, Jo Kemp, says that it is innovative responses like these that will help community groups overcome the challenges that the pandemic has presented.

“I’m so impressed with FoSB’s response to the unexpected situation we all find ourselves in. They have successfully come together and adjusted their plans to find other ways to meet their financial obligations, and continue to serve their community. However, it is an ongoing challenge and they continue to seek donations to support their operations,” she said.

FoSB would appreciate your support for this initiative. If you’d like to explore having a fundraising account for your community project, contact Jo Kemp, FRRR’s Philanthropic Services Manager.

If you’re looking for advice on how your community group can respond to the COVID crisis, there are lots of resources available such as those listed on the OurCommunity website.