Data needed to innovate and scale

30 Jul 2015

Based on a presentation to a Committee for Economic Development Australia (CEDA) Forum on ending entrenched disadvantage in Australia.

Capital and failure are two words we don’t often hear together in the social purpose sector.

This article addresses capital and the investment it allows to take place in our sector. However, at the outset, I want you to think about the failure and the price of that failure.

When we as a sector are less than our effective best, it’s not we who suffer. It’s the 1.5 million Australians living in entrenched disadvantage that the CEDA report (Addressing entrenched disadvantage in Australia) so disturbingly describes.

When we fail, people who put their faith in us, people challenged daily by issues on the edge of life, without the help, without the community support, without the resources that capital can provide, are the ones who suffer.

We must not fail; we must find better and more effective ways to work in the social purpose sector.

I believe that it’s time to ’break the mould’ of service delivery. We can achieve better social outcomes if we learn to better utilise capital investment for social purpose and apply some of the same disciplines used in business to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the sector.

In business we see development follows a logical, sequential process:

  1. Innovate and test
  2. Replicate
  3. Expand to scale

Capital supports this process by funding innovation, fostering replication and later providing the financial resources required to expand to scale. If this same process were applied more often in the social sector I believe it would lead to the allocation of resources to programs that are achieving real, positive outcomes in the community.

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