In light of our refreshed Telstra Business Awards program, we speak to some of our past Charity Award winners to find out the doors that have opened for them since taking home their title – along with their advice for prospective charities and social enterprises considering entering this year.

Now in their 26th year, the Telstra Business Awards have evolved to provide greater value to the Australian business community. We’ve updated the Awards program to better reflect current business trends, including replacing our previous Charity Award with a new Social Change Maker category.

This new category will recognise outstanding organisations where a positive social impact is at the core of their purpose and will be open to not-for-profit, social enterprise and profit-for-purpose organisations.

Celebrating social enterprises

There are currently around 20,000 social enterprises in Australia. With the number growing steadily, we recognised the importance of celebrating these organisations.

Simon Rowe, CEO of the 2017 Telstra Victorian Charity Award winner sleepbus, comments that the evolving social enterprise space is an exciting one. “Social enterprises are a powerful movement,” he says. “Not only do they innovate, disrupt and inspire, they are also creating hope, passion, jobs and above all, they’re making our world better by helping those less fortunate.”

“Social enterprises demand recognition because of what they are able to achieve financially and the social impact they can have,” Simon adds.

For Scott Rankin, CEO of 2017 Telstra Tasmanian Charity Award winner Big hART, ‘social’, ‘change’ and ‘maker’ are the three most important words in the English language. “Imagine the world without them,” he says. “This new category is important because building a better world is fundamental to continuing to be able to do business. Social change making results in sustainability.”

“Doors are flying open”

Our Alumni credit their Awards wins with opening up new opportunities and experiences for their organisation – almost from the moment their names were announced. For 2017 Telstra Australian Charity Award winner, MS Research Australia, that resulted in approaches from many more donors and philanthropists interested in their cause.

“The digital media exposure that came off the back of winning an Award has provided additional assurance to those affected by MS regarding our transparency, innovation, and our progressive focus,” says CEO Dr. Matthew Miles.

Similarly, Scott Rankin says since winning, doors have been flying open for Big hART. “From speaking to the Tasmanian State Cabinet about digital inclusion and prevention strategies for family violence, through to pitching our business to forward-thinking philanthropic bodies, we are continually searching for transformative projects that work,” Scott says.

Winning advice

For charities and social enterprises considering entering this year’s Awards, Dr. Miles says to use the opportunity for your own advancement: “My advice would be to enjoy the opportunity and meet as many people as you can. It’s a great chance to think differently about how you work.”

As for Simon Rowe, his advice is to ‘just do it’. “You literally have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It’s a fantastic opportunity to benchmark what you’re doing, engage with others and to learn from each other.”

To make this year ‘that’ year for your not-for-profit, social enterprise or profit-for-purpose organisation, be sure to submit your entry before 28 of March and enter by the 9 of April.

Anyone can nominate, so if you know a deserving charity or social enterprise, nominate them for a Telstra Business Award today.