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Farewell Morri Young OAM, Co-Founder of Accounting for Good

Passionate, innovative, generous, irascible and very funny. Morri Young OAM, co-founder of Accounting For Good, passed away on Sunday 13th February. He worked hard and made a difference in the world in his 69 years here, leaving a truckload of legacies in his wake.

I first met Morri in early 2001. Kirsten Forrester introduced us to each other and at that time, the GST had recently been introduced. The three of us could see how difficult it was for small volunteer-based nonprofits to adapt their financial and admin systems to manage the financial risks of the GST as well as other tax reforms impacting charities and nonprofits introduced in July 2000. This is where the seed of what is now Accounting For Good was sown.

Morri started his career as a social worker looking after children through the statutory child protection system.

This experience of being a government appointed officer trying to ‘parent’ neglected and abused children shaped his thinking throughout his career. As CEO of ACWA in the 1990s, Morri advocated for the most vulnerable people in the child protection system to be heard by government. He worked hard for legislative change and created conduits for young people to be heard and seen and understood for the truth of their lived experience. Morri was passionate about justice for the vulnerable and the need for nonprofits to be a strong and successful vehicle for creating a just society.

Morri embodied innovation and entrepreneurship. He naturally thought outside the square; in fact, I think he lived his life outside the square!

Morri knew the nonprofit sector was trying to change the world on limited resources, with increasing compliance requirements, complex funding arrangements and pressing community needs. He saw how things could be done more efficiently, more effectively, to have a greater impact.

His vision coupled with his love of innovation drove his personal mission; this led to the establishment of Matrix on Board in 2001 which matured in 2016 into the two separate businesses: Matrix Consulting and Training and Accounting For Good.

Morri was generous with his resources – his networks, knowledge and businesses. He was a big believer in what Malcolm Gladwell wrote about in The Tipping Point (2000), that it is little things that make a big difference.

Gladwell identifies how the success of a social movement is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts, namely people who are connectors, mavens and salespeople. Morri embodied the trifecta.

He could strike up a conversation with strangers, colleagues, junior or senior in role, cleaner or performer at a show, and inevitably the conversation would end with an exchange of details and Morri connecting that person to a person, or a tool, that might just open a door that would change their circumstance or help them take another step in fulfilling their vision for a better world.

Morri’s passion for all things good and for the greater good could also manifest in irascibility. If he perceived resistance to new ideas and fear of change, Morri’s frustration could turn to a sharp word, a tense mood and narrow tolerance. Over the 21 years we worked together, I saw him grow and soften in this trait, as he sought to become more aware of the impact of this on others, and ultimately the impact this could have on the attainment of his own vision and goals. His commitment to bring awareness to the impact of his actions on others – both negative and positive – and his desire for personal growth in relationships is a testament to his integrity and character.

Morri was quick-witted. He had a great sense of humour and was quick with a comeback.

I once commented to him about his jokes and banter to which he responded “You only hear half of it. I’m cracking myself up most of the time!” He encapsulated the best of Jewish humour – wordplays, irony, satire and self-deprecation while also being immensely proud of his heritage.

There were so many chapters in Morri’s working life: he was a youth worker, government worker, CEO, Managing Director, Board member. He always worked for the greater good and was a recipient of a Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queens Birthday 2021 Honours List in recognition for his services to the community. Morri had a remarkable ability to see the potential in someone or in a situation and to convey a new vision in a way that inspired others to see themselves and their situation anew.

Morri did this for me personally throughout our 20 year business partnership. He inspired me, always saw my potential, helped me see clearly how practices and patterns in my working life (and personal life) no longer served me or my vision, and encouraged me to Let It Go. Dare to be different. Jump off the cliff and just believe I might fly. And fly we did.

Morri’s legacy of bringing ‘strength to the arm’ of nonprofits continues in the daily service delivery of Matrix Consulting and Training, led by Nerida Nettelbeck as Managing Director (and Morri’s and my business partner from 2007 to 2015) and Accounting For Good, led by me as Director and Kirsten Forrester as CEO.

I am bereft to have lost my bestie, my business partner, my wise counsel and one of my biggest supporters. The chordoma that ended his life was a bugger, it was unwelcome, and Morri refused to let the diagnosis shape the remaining years of his life. He lived a full and beautiful life.

One of Morri’s favourite authors was Seth Godin; Morri subscribed to Seth’s daily blog and regularly shared snippets from the blog with a friend or colleague that Morri felt just might benefit from receiving it. One Seth quote he shared with me stands out: “Connect, create meaning, make a difference, matter, be missed.”

You did all these, Morri Young, and then some. You can be proud. And you will be missed.

———-

Morri requested that donations in honorarium be made to The Chordoma Foundation (US).

Taken from Nonie Wales, Director, Accounting For Good.

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