The dynamics of the AWA have changed over time, and if the AWA wants to
stay relevant in today's world we must do some things differently.
The AWA was established after WWI, during a time when expat communities
were vital in keeping Americans informed and connected to their cultural
identity and traditions.
Generally, women did not work, but like today, needed to express their
talents in a way that created meaningful contribution to society.
For man years, the ladies of the AWA worked in large social
committees to plan fundraising events.
As time advanced, American women began joining the workforce. Some
relocated to Melbourne with spouses, on temporary placements. The
context evolved but pattern remained - professional women needing an
outlet to express intelligence and determination. This group of
women had access to corporate resources and knowledge in the use of
charity funds. Fundraising peaked.
In the mid 2000s, unattached professional women were arriving on their
own. The digital revolution picked up its pace. Then, most
impactfully, in 2007, the United States experienced a financial crisis,
which forced many American companies to consolidate. Our corporate
expats began departing, taking with them much fundraising knowledge and
availability of time.
During the following years, members felt pressure to continue holding
large fundraisers. Balls at the Crown Casino were run by fewer
people, who were now often permanent residents, concurrently invested in
raising children and reeducating to obtain employment.
Facebook arrived and the internet became a primary expat resource.
Travel had become more affordable, with Americans in Melbourne
constantly on the go. From about 2009-2014, AWA membership halved.
Today the AWA stands at around 100 members. This is low to
long-term members, but high to new arrivals. The internet
revolution appears to have peaked an advantage to organizations offering
personal connections. Our numbers are holding, but participation in
traditional events has dropped off.
The AWA seeks to redefine the value we offer our members. If we
read it right, we feel that most of the women are now working, but may
still need assistance with employment. The clearest direction is to
develop events that offer professional development and business
The AWA maintains validity through its connection as a fundraising
auxiliary to the Children's Hospital. However, fundraising in this
defined environment also needs to be reshaped. With a refreshing
population, the AWA is in a good position to transition to a newer
sustainable fundraising model.
The AWA seeks your input into the formation of a Professional Development
Program. The launch will be held during the June General Meeting.
We have already been asking members about what they would like to
see in this program. To further customize our offerings, we
anticipate speaking to businesses about their perspectives in employing
people with experience in the American sector. Finally, we seek to
become a portal for American expats seeking employment in Melbourne,
which might for the foundation of a new fundraising model.