30 April 2020 | Jarrod Briffa CEO Kinfolk
Prior to the pandemic, we were a growing charity with a bright future and expanding community for whom we delivered valuable social impact. Yes we had our challenges, but for the most part we were doing well. Then everything changed. We are now in a battle for our survival that will require much community co-operation, resilience and patience. Thankfully we have that in spades.
Kinfolk & Sibling operate in a unique cross-section, that of hospitality, events and community services. These sectors have been grossly compromised by COVID. Hospitality and events revenue is minimal, and these industries provided the funding for our community services. Worryingly, the many communities we support are facing new and further complicated challenges as a result of COVID. We are now on the brink of closure.
Our challenge is developing new sales during the pandemic.
We have proven our agility by adapting and innovating in this ever-changing environment and are finding new means to serve our community. These operations and services could become the building blocks of our future; but we will struggle to fund them.
Our original cafe Kinfolk was closed before Easter, due to trade falling below 10% of pre-COVID sales. Sibling has transitioned to takeaway only, we have implemented risk management strategies and we have started preparing essentials packs and ready-to-go home cooked meals for contactless delivery to support and nourish our customers changing needs. The primary profit centre, Events By Kinfolk, has suffered cancellation of all forward bookings with no events scheduled or anticipated for the immediate future. It is fair to say that this arm of the business is no longer in existence. But the positive news is that at Sibling we are holding onto 70% of our income and creating new revenues via our on-line store.
Our volunteer program for disadvantaged members of our community is at the core of our existence and the means by which we make a difference. More than 1,000 volunteers have come through our training program since 2010 – the inclusive experience, training and connections forged have been life changing. One of the worst effects of COVID-19 upon our business is its effect on the volunteer program that is suspended for the foreseeable future.
Many of our community members struggle with social isolation and mental health, and their circumstances are now compounded by COVID-19. We are extremely concerned for them during this time. We would be devastated if, on the other side of the pandemic, Kinfolk’s program was not around to support our marginalised and isolated communities. We are extremely stretched financially and we need to buy some time to continue innovating and developing new revenue streams in response to the changing external environment and customer behaviours. Our on-line store is making good ground on this front and achieved more than $10,000 in sales in its first week and these sales have grown in the weeks since. We operate well under pressure and have great support in our team but the challenge is huge and time is running out having been hit so hard and quickly losing all our CBD revenues. We are getting some help and Job Keeper will provide assistance in helping Kinfolk to maintain staff and operations during the next 6 months. Our landlords are also helping out and we have cut our expenditure to the bone to make Kinfolk more resilient.
But is it enough?
As each day brings new challenges, so too, it brings new opportunities. We are encouraging our community to support Kinfolk via our online shop or through donating directly. With a collective community effort we might just survive, innovate and, possibly, come out the other side more resilient as a business and better positioned to support the vulnerable members of our community we have included in our program for the last 10 years.