I have often found that here in New Zealand, people are very generous with their time for a cause, but not quite so with their money.
The dramatic rise in volunteering seems to validate this assumption, but it is also mirrored by a struggle for funds that makes it a massive challenge for charities to survive.
When this is coupled with some bad luck and the behaviour of a handful of losers committing crime, it can be a real blow for an organisation.
The other day, a custom-built 'Wash Against Waste' trailer which is designed to wash reusable items at events - thereby negating the need for disposable rubbish - was stolen. Please share this article/photo as widely as possible, so that we may help them to get it back. If you have any information about it you can confidentially contact Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111.
I am particularly fond of this project as it creates a simple solution to what I believe has become a packaging crises - the insane trend of using so much unnecessary single-use plastic. This is particularly bad over the summer holidays when our consumption goes up 30 per cent.
I think that we need more grass-roots action like the Wash Against Waste project - which recently was featured here as the kind of community fabric that would make Auckland world class- where people take responsibility for their own actions.
At Sustainable Coastlines we had our similarly-branded vehicle stolen some years back and it was a major blow for the organisation.
By sharing photos of it on Facebook and because of the excellent article in the link above, many people heard about it and we ended up spotting a part that had been taken from our truck. This enabled the police to catch the person selling the stolen goods, but it will never bring anything back to us.
One of my colleagues has had his Subaru stolen no less than four times in Auckland over the past five years. When you talk to the police, they quite openly say that the chances of catching the offenders are really low. Why is this theft becoming so commonplace that people can brazenly take a moving billboard from a public road and get away with it?
Perhaps we should take a look the root cause of these problems. The inspirational retiring Auckland City Missioner Dame Diane Robertson DNZM has said that she has seen the needs of the most vulnerable grow over her time at the charity.
We seem to hear about poverty more frequently than ever these days and it seems clear that this would be one of the factors that drives people to crime, particular in a place with such unaffordable housing as Auckland. Whilst it is clearly not the case in all thefts, it seems harder to blame someone for it when they can't otherwise feed their kids.
So what could we do to assist with this? There are some major project dedicating time and money to address poverty, with varying degrees of success. One potential tool is the social impact bond - where the risk is passed on to private investors rather than the taxpayer. I am really interested in this as a potential tool for financing a big capacity development project that will aim to address the needs of some of our most vulnerable people.
If you have expertise or interest in social impact bonds and would like to help, or have other ideas do to curb the spate of theft against the community please leave a comment below or email me.