Hands Group, Narrabeen, NSW Australia: Hands Across the Water

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Name of Organization / Company: Hands Group, Narrabeen, NSW Australia
Category: B01 - B09 - Award for Excellence in Corporate Innovation > B07A. Award for Excellence in Innovation in Non-Profit Organizations or NGOs - Up to 100 Employees

Entry Title: Hands Across The Water

Hands Across the Water (Hands) is an Australian charity operating in Thailand. It was established in 2005 after our founder, Peter Baines OAM, was introduced to the kids of Takua Pa who had lost their parents in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

Baines was working as a forensic investigator leading the Australian and International Teams in the identification of those who died. Instead of leaving when his work ended, he decided to do something to help the children whose families and livelihoods had been destroyed.

Hands was formed and more than a decade later we operate in seven locations throughout Thailand, supporting over 350 kids by providing a safe home and a valuable education.

Hands recognised a need for an innovative approach to the financial management of the charity’s fundraising, allowing 100% of all funds raised to support the kids and the homes. No fundraising money is used for administration, staff wages or marketing.

This is made possible through the creation of a separate entity, Hands Group, which is a social enterprise that delivers leadership, education and travel experiences. Profits from these events fund the running of Hands Group, the goal being to generate enough profit to not only pay business running costs, but to deliver excess profits to the charity.

Events such as the Future of Leadership (FOL) series are an innovative, unique way to fund the operations of the Hands Group. FOL has grown to be one of Australia’s premier leadership conferences, attracting 2000+ delegates annually to one-day events in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Auckland and Bangkok. FOL includes talks from some of Australia and Thailand’s most sought-after and respected speakers, providing fresh insight into the most topical and crucial issues affecting businesses today.

In Thailand, Hands is dedicated to creating the right structure to empower Thai staff to provide the care and education the children need. We firmly believe that the best people to raise and educate Thai kids, are Thais, and that by providing the right framework, we will truly allow local communities to lead and nurture the next generation. Hands provides governance, compliance, leadership, accountability and funding to the charity and the orphanages, leaving the spiritual care and education to the local Thai staff.

One of the key focuses of the charity is to provide sustainable support that not only benefits the children, but the whole community. The real impact of Hands is measured in the choice we create for the kids when it comes time for them to leave our homes. When the children have finished high school, they are given the opportunity to go to university, fully funded by the charity, of which we now have 47 students enrolled.

Beyond that, we have a growing number of Alumni kids that have graduated from University with their degrees, and the employment policy for Hands is to favour the kids who have come through our homes and want to return to work with us.

A sewing room has also been established in one of the homes which provides employment for the local community as well as an option for the kids to consider when they are old enough. By providing opportunities for education and employment as a continuance of the care at the homes, we believe we are bettering the community by developing a self-sustaining charity model.

The Hands Group is run with very low overheads. There are 4 full-time staff who work from home or at donated office space. This streamlined structure allows for an agile and empowered staff, who are committed to achieving excellence in business which will ultimately transform lives in Thailand. To date, Hands has raised over $20 million dollars to support at-risk children in Thailand and is striving for continued excellence in the future.