Opinion | National vs local thinking | Grace McLean

It’s Thursday afternoon and I park my car for a meeting. Across the road I see a Fastway courier van with ‘your courier is Michael’ on it.

I’m in a supermarket buying a tin of diced tomatoes. On the label there’s a photo of the ‘local farmer’ who, the company says, grew the tomatoes that are in that can.

‘Go global’ is a current theme in the community. But global organisations are making sure they connect with us by showing us their local attachment. And I think we need to start paying attention.

For many years, my work involved setting up regional offices for national charitable organisations. My role was to establish and implement regional plans. It wasn’t an easy task. The major issue came from my headquarters not having a regional plan. Therefore, they weren’t on the same page when I wanted to implement local partnerships. They had a national plan, which was strong, but broad.

Creating the regional plan required a lot of research and it focused on executing care to our people. It is different from a national plan as it needs different implementation methods to ensure the connection stays authentic.

I can’t tell you how much money I missed out on receiving for my organisations because I wasn’t given the support I needed to show the donor how their dollars were being used to support people in the community. It ended up affecting the community that needed our service.

My ideas weren’t ‘out of the box’ crazy, but just little ideas to help donors or corporates feel connected to our community.  

I soon realised I wasn’t the only person struggling with ‘national vs local’ thinking on how things should be run.

I would discuss these very issues with four major banking institutions and global engineering firms who had regional offices without a regional plan. They had the same frustrations.

The damage that occurs can be huge. Turnover is high because staff don’t feel supported, community needs aren’t being met (or changing) because no one is listening and countless dollars are being wasted through government, not for profit and corporate streams because of the disparity in thinking.

Be wise in your globalness. By all means go global, but make sure you don’t forget the reason why your organisation exists, and that is to the help serve the people locally. 

Coles is doing it. You should too.

Grace McLean is the founder of NFP Connect