Giving back to pay it forward

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Late last year, a new philanthropic enterprise was launched called the Marine Industry Foundation. Darren Vaux explains what it is, why it is important and how the whole industry can get involved.

All mature and professional industries have a philanthropic heart that seeks to support, protect and enhance the lives of those within and without our industry who are less fortunate or presented with less opportunity than ourselves. There are many great charities and foundations in and around our industry, both local and national, that have been supported by the wider industry and individuals alike. What has been missing to date has been a focus to these philanthropic efforts.

After many years of discussion and planning, in late 2015 the Marine Industry Foundation was formed though collaboration of the BIAA and MIA to provide that focus. The Marine Industry Foundation has two core objectives:

1. Provide support to disadvantaged groups and groups disconnected from recreational boating with access to boating experiences and skills.

2. Provide opportunities for employment, education and training within the marine industry.

The Foundation will do this by providing a pathway for consolidation of charitable fund raising within the industry, undertake fund raising in its own right through events and promotions, and provide financial support for existing programs and new programs of its own initiative as set out in its strategic plan.

A key feature of the Foundation will be its objective to bring together both the broader industry and recreational boaters to create social connection, networks and community though the Foundation’s fund raising events. Good people coming together to do good things with a boating flavour and outcome.

Why is this important?

Firstly, the Marine Industry Foundation is not about ‘re-inventing the wheel’. There are excellent charities already operating within the industry like Sailability and the Foundation’s aim is to continue and increase the support for these charities though its undertakings.

In addition though, the Foundation has identified a number of groups and opportunities that are overlooked, particularly in regional areas where resources are more scarce. The Foundation will look to develop programs and strategies to co-ordinate bringing together the ‘need’ with the outcome through our industry and user group partners.

Secondly, and apart from just being the right thing to do, having a focused approach to philanthropy within an industry is a fundamental part of an industry’s profile and reputation. It provides an opportunity to put aside competitive or commercial tensions and work together across a range of stakeholder groups for the better good. It also helps to reshape the image of our industry from ‘silvertails’ to the reality which is grassroots mum and dads, families, adventure seekers and fishermen and fisherwomen choosing to spend their hard-earned money in pursuit of the joy that is boating. A joy that is worth sharing from the heart.

United in a common cause

The Marine Industry Foundation will look to raise funds through sponsorship, donations, social functions and events. The social functions and events are seen as great opportunities to bring the industry and boaters together, create networking and fellowship opportunities while united in a common cause. As with all acts of giving, I am sure the industry and participants will gain as much, if not more from the experience, as will the ultimate beneficiaries.

The Foundation will be governed by a volunteer board made up of industry and boaters and administered by volunteer executives from the MIA and the BIA. All funds raised will be directed to the benefit of the beneficiaries of the Foundation. Submissions for grants will be invited and these will be tested by the executive and the board for compliance with the charter of the Foundation before allocations are made. The activities and allocations will be transparent so that the integrity of the Foundation is maintained at all times.

What the Foundation needs now is volunteers and participants. In early 2016 the website for the Foundation will be launched and this will provide detailed information about the Foundation, the upcoming events and how to get involved. I implore you to check out the site when it is launched and to consider how you can get involved in building the heart in our boating community.

This article first appeared in the February-March issue of Marine Business magazine.

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