Special Olympics New Zealand

Special Olympics New Zealand approached ChangeWorks to assist us with a high level review of our organisation. Special Olympics was experiencing significant growth in its athlete numbers which puts pressure on funding and management roles and structure.

Our plans suggested we needed NZ$3.8 million in the next financial year to achieve our goals for that year. We were struggling to raise half of that and our current financial year operating costs were NZ$1.6 million. We were concerned we were actually developing a top heavy organisation when we needed resources at the front line supporting athletes and volunteers. We asked SPARC for help. SPARC suggested we consider ChangeWorks. We knew ChangeWorks had completed similar review work and were known for their understanding of the issues that face the sporting and not-for-profit sectors. They came to grips with our organisation quickly, challenged our thinking and delivered the results we were after. The return in the first year on our investment in ChangeWorks will be at least 600% and the impact on our effectiveness is greater than that.

The Outcome

We have implemented a new organisational structure where all but two staff are directly working on school or community sport issues with strengthened leadership and accountability for distinct work. Our stakeholders and staff are commenting regularly on the improvement. Funders are rewarding us.

We now have a clear focus on growing and supporting the core Special Olympics community through schools, clubs, volunteers and coaches and building a network of people who advocate and support the unique quality of Special Olympics for athletes. At the same time we have decreased the amount of money we need to raise while also increasing our focus on raising funds. Our attractiveness to funders has increased because we have removed layers of “national office” overhead cost while increasing focus on the people we serve.

The clear benefits in re-focusing our organisation have been:

  • paying more attention to our core frontline activities
  • huge cost savings – we are around 40% below the previous year’s expenditure and spending less than one third of planned expenditure while achieving plan outcomes.

Working with ChangeWorks

The key insight from ChangeWorks during this organisational change process was for us to organise around the community network we serve rather than by programmes we offer or traditional not-for-profit management roles. We also accepted that our CEO needed to be our Chief Fundraising Officer as well as the leader of our team. These insights were invaluable and it was because they knew our sector so well. We ended up asking ourselves why it had taken us this long to work it out!

ChangeWorks were direct in their advice throughout and provided huge value for us. We are extremely grateful for this.

David Rutherford
New Zealand Special Olympics