A PULSE Story : Evening the odds

Meet Agnes Ong, Area Finance Operations Director based in Singapore. She recently returned from a 3-month PULSE assignment with Save the Children Australia (SCA) head office based in Melbourne.

Earlier in June this year, 75 new PULSE volunteers were deployed globally to bring about change with 32 different organizations in 28 countries. Working on assignments aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals of ‘Good Health’ and ‘Quality Education’, these volunteers put their skills and working experience gained from their regular day jobs to solve some of the most pressing needs in the NGOs and charities that they partner with.

SCA has been running domestic programs focused on early education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children for more than 60 year and expanded to run education and child protection programs for disadvantaged communities in urban, regional and remote locations around Australia.

I have always wanted to contribute in a way where I can use my skills to make an impact on the community. This PULSE assignment with SCA is perfect for that because I get to apply my financial skills to provide support to the NGO, and at the same time, I am able to witness first hand, the inspiring impact the volunteers and our partnership have on the communities.

 Agnes’s core task during the PULSE assignment was to use her financial expertise to understand the key activity drivers and the cost base of all departments and support functions and allocate these costs against the respective income generators to derive a realistic view of the P&L of core activities.

I realised how difficult it was to raise funds, how competitive the fund raising scene is and how small reserves NGOs have to work with. In GSK, we take the financial resources and stability of the company for granted. I also experienced how important advocacy is to shape government policies.

The output of Agnes’ work will enable SCA to tender for government or corporate grants in a realistic manner so that the future sustainability of the organisation can be assured as overheads are recouped appropriately.

We asked her how she found the PULSE experience and the one thing interesting thing she discovered about herself while on assignment.

I have taken part mainly in GSK organized events and also in church activities but they were just one day type of events which were different in objectives with shorter term impact.

I learnt to be patient again as I had to adjust to a different pace while working in SCA as compared to a corporate setting like GSK. I also learnt that sometimes I think I am clear in my communication but others may not be in the same wavelength so I really need to be careful when I ask for information so as to avoid any potential miscommunication.

Just go for it & experience PULSE!

It is heartening to know that up to 91% of non-profit partners on the PULSE programme report that the impact of the work by PULSE volunteers can still be felt even 6 months after the assignments have ended. On that note, Agnes’s PULSE supervisor has commented that her efforts have provided SCA with “quality analysis that many other NGO’s within the sector do not have” and that she has delivered “an important and tangible piece of work” for the organization.

Feeling inspired and keen to be part of the passionate team of PULSE volunteers making a difference across communities? Read more about the programme and stories from other PULSE volunteers here!

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