A recent university research project has shown that Australian cross-sector partnerships are not currently fulfilling their potential to be a powerful force in effecting systemic social change. However, the research also suggests that business and social purpose organisations are both ready to experiement with new, deeper and broader approaches to engage more systemically with social issues.
The research on cross-sector partnerships was conducted by Natasha Morris (the article's author) and Lynette Ryan as part of the University of NSW Graduate Certificate of Social Impact.
One of the key findings was that businesses have an incredibly wide variety of reasons for entering into cross-sector partnerships, with no two businesses listing exactly the same motivations.
Motivations tended to be organisation-specific (even within sectors), in some cases not related to creating social impact, but instead to benefits for the particular business.
Understanding how to incentivise deeper engagement by business will require a better understanding of the organisation-specific needs of the private sector organisations.
To help draw out this deeper understanding, the article provides five questions to be used as a road map in conversations between SPOs and existing business partners, and for businesses to ask themselves.
If leaders can use these questions, it may be possible for cross-sector partnerships to unlock the potential and start driving more systemic social change.