He says YCA does not depend on the government for funding (although some of its projects, such as those run in the Pacific and central Australia, are aligned with federal Government projects). But it does receive support from other organisations. It recently piloted a program, which has since gained the support of Oxfam, to send young indigenous people from Sydney to participate in community-development projects. “Unlike many other organisations that are totally reliant on external funding, YCA is a much more ‘market driven model’. We develop partnerships and offer niche programs that appeal to our targeted youth market, and balance this with the needs of the communities in which we operate.”

An example of this balance is a new partnership that YCA has made to assist an orphanage in Mexico. The needs of this orphanage “may not be the highest priority for other development organisations or federal governments”. One of YCA’s subsidiaries, Youth Challenge Vanuatu, combats youth unemployment in the Pacific nation. “When 60 per cent of Vanuatu’s population is under 25 year’s of age, a disenchanted youth could prove very destabilising for the country.”

Such projects are driven by perceived need and not the opportunity to tap into available funding. “As an organisation, we concern ourselves with the merits of the project itself before we worry about whether or not we will be able to attract external funding. That, I believe, is one of the key reasons YCA has prospered over the last 15 years.”

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