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The first 30 members of The Xfactor Collective – Australia’s first community for independent consultants, coaches, mentors and specialist agencies – recently gathered to kick off the new initiative and also launch an 18-week free knowledge-sharing program.

The #askXFACTOR LIVE program is the first of many initiatives to come, in a quest to make life easier to be a social change-maker, with a different subject matter expert who will be online every Wednesday morning to answer questions.

Founder Julia Keady says that 80-90% of social change-makers – be they private or business philanthropy, for-purpose organisations, community foundations or professional advisors – are small operators, who often miss out on specialist support.

“As a Collective, we have worked with hundreds of organisations and businesses, where their board or management felt stuck on questions – be it about technology, events, data, legal, culture, CSR, governance, fundraising or media. There’s been nothing more frustrating than watching them not know the answers, or not know where to get them,” she says.

“And as practitioners, we are in the trenches everyday seeing the emerging trends firsthand, such as the tidal wave of SME businesses about to embrace philanthropy; baby boomers using their wealth to set up social enterprises; the growing B Corp and social benefit business movement; the application of predictive data tools to effect social change; the rise of collaborative models; democratisation of technology and much more.”

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The Xfactor Collective founder Julia Keady (left) with Linda Garnett and Sharon Dann.

The Xfactor Collective currently features practitioners and providers across 100+ areas of specialisation. The community spans law, CSR, media, research, HR, governance, fundraising, technology, facilitation, strategic planning, data analytics, impact reporting and much more. Participating members all retain their independence, while benefiting from business and professional development activities.

Julia says the Collective is designed to break down out-dated silos and constructs, and make it easier for all change-makers, including the many consultants and small business operators who are often overlooked as change-makers themselves.

“After 10 years of working with philanthropists, social enterprises, business owners and for-purpose organisations, as well as other consultancies, I realised that it’s time for a centre of excellence that unites, recognises and supports the incredible solo and small operators in Australia, and in doing so, we can collectively create new ways to support the sector that we care deeply about.”

Former president of Volunteering Australia Tim Jackson has applauded the move: “It’s great to have a quality alternative to the Big 4 advisory firms that also supports the many highly skilled specialists in Australia.”

Collective member and international philanthropy sector leader Ruth Jones says the new community is both an exciting and important development: “The whole sector stands to benefit, especially from initiatives such as the #askXFACTOR LIVE weekly program. This in itself is a great capacity building activity – providing change-makers especially those in rural and remote areas – with much-needed support, guidance and connection.”

Business leader and Managing Director of Scenic World, Anthea Hammon, said the Collective is a welcome addition: “This is truly visionary, and responds to something that businesses especially need – a trusted destination with pre-vetted specialists, that allows us to come in and out of the Collective as we need different skills and support.”

#askXFACTOR LIVE runs every Wednesday at 10am AEST, starting on 15 August. The full program is available at www.xfactorcollective.com/live.