Small, community-based organisations are well-placed to innovate in social service design and delivery. Their work is embedded in community, they only exist because they are serving a real need, and they are relatively nimble in their ability to change and innovate.
In turn, this innovation has the potential to inform and influence more effective practice, funding, collaboration and policy across social service systems, and so support ever greater numbers of people to overcome the barriers they face.
For organisations that aspire to increase their breadth of impact (and not all do), replication is one way of doing this. However very few succeed to replicate beyond a handful of locations or communities.
SVA has reviewed seven initiatives or ventures which have succeeded in replicating in Australia to glean practical lessons. We share the lessons and observations from this review to provoke reflection and learning among ventures, funders and other social sector stakeholders.
The seven ventures reviewed all identified and maintained a convincing value proposition, maintained some measure of control over design and delivery, and measured and tracked just the essentials.
The initiatives also all stayed true to their purpose and many demonstrated the potential for relatively small-scale ventures to influence the underlying conditions of the social sector in which they operate.