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Archive for the ‘Peter Shergold’ Category

The Macquarie Group Foundation that I chair celebrated its 25th anniversary recently. In celebration, I had reflected on philanthropy in Australia over the last two decades. I had also made some predictions for the future, which I will share again here. This is no tribute to my foresight: the harbingers of change are already evident.

Within a sector that will continue to become larger, I’d expect to see further developments in 3 key areas.

First, I anticipate that the increased capacity and scale of many economically-significant NFPs will see them evolve into true social enterprises. They will retain the vision that inspires their members, donors and volunteers but increasingly couch their benefits in terms of a blend of social and financial value. Already around 20,000 Australian community organisations trade to fulfil their public mission, reinvesting their surplus income (their ‘profit’) into improving their organisational capacity and scaling-up their activities.

Second, I expect to see new investment vehicles emerge to raise funds which will complement the donations of philanthropists. A contemporary challenge, which will be overcome in the near future, is building and accessing a capital market for social impact. Investors need to be able to make low-interest loans to or acquire equity in social businesses. The early signals are encouraging. The Commonwealth has recently announced a Social Enterprise Development Investment Fund and the WA government has budgeted for a Community Development Investment Fund. Both are intended to harness loan capital for community benefit.

The initiatives are intended to corral social impact investment from those who seek not only a modest financial return but an opportunity to do good. This is the bold business model underpinning GoodStart, which has emerged to manage around 600 of the ex-ABC Learning childcare centres. It’s dependent not on government grants and philanthropy but loans which offer lower than market returns. That’s just the beginning. Expect to hear in the near future of new vehicles such as social impact bonds or a social stock exchange.

Third, and in some ways most influential, the measurement of social and environmental impact will increasingly be incorporated into government measures of national well-being. The social costs (of externalities) and benefits (of community activity) will long before 2035 be fully integrated into measures of Australian economic income and growth. The extraordinary value of community engagement will be accounted for in our national statistics. The social economy, and the contribution which it makes to community well-being and civic engagement, will at long last be properly accounted.

Blog coordinator’s note: For info on the Centre for Socal Impact, please see http://www.csi.edu.au/.

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Government seeks to maximize the well-being of its citizens. The social sector has the same ultimate objective but it, and the multifarious stakeholders who seek to give it voice, may not always be seen by government to have the same agenda.

The attitude of government toward nonprofit organizations affects how it calibrates the conduct of its key functions of funder, promoter, regulator, and player. Government may view nonprofits alternately as “friend,” “filler,” or “foe,” depending on the time, circumstances, and organizations involved.

While government wields power and authority, it can seek to harness the power of the nonprofit sector through an affirmative approach that recognizes the mutuality of objectives. Such an affirmative government is marked by a whole-of-government and citizen-centric approach to decisions and interactions, recognition of the public good that nonprofit organizations provide, an agenda of social inclusion for citizen empowerment, and collaborative governance of the community and its constituents.

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