venture philanthropy

The SVA Venture Philanthropy Impact Series – which took place in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth in March – examined what needs to be done to better drive system change for people and communities currently experiencing disadvantage; and what innovative funding models are powering solutions.

SVA supported 17 organisations through its venture philanthropy portfolio in 2017.

SVA’s CEO Rob Koczkar said that each venture partner presents great promise; not only for better outcomes for people in the communities in which they operate, but also to influence the systems they operate in to become more effective.

“At SVA we seek to find, test, prove, refine and scale effective solutions that are working on the ground, to address some of Australia’s most stubborn social challenges,” he said.

“More effective social systems for a better society is a big goal, one we must pursue if everyone and every community in Australia is to thrive.”

The events showcased insights from a diverse group of social purpose leaders, including philanthropists, academics and social enterprise founders and CEOs.

Three key themes emerged throughout the series.

1. Focused, long-term capacity building is key to achieving positive outcomes

Gillian Turnbull, a Director in the SVA Consulting team, acknowledged there are often challenges when funders expect organisations to report on outcomes without helping to build the capacity within those organisations to do so.

“Outcomes reporting is important, but funders need to recognise that many organisations require resources or capacity to do this well without it detracting from frontline services. Philanthropic funding needs to focus on long-term capacity building so that outcomes management becomes inbuilt in the way an organisation operates over time, helping them to increase their impact.

‘Listening carefully to the community about their needs, strengths and aspirations should be the bedrock of any funding relationship, and these trusting and mutual relationships take time to build.”


venture philanthropy

Panellists (left to right): Prof Jeff Borland, Truby Williams Professor of Economics, the University of Melbourne; Lisa Boothby, Executive Director, Social Traders; Simon Crabb, Project Manager, Industry Employment Initiative, Social Ventures Australia; and Anna Faithfull, Director, Employment, Social Ventures Australia.

2. Language matters

Professor Kerry Arabena, Chair of Indigenous Health and Director of the Indigenous Health Equity Unit at The University of Melbourne, spoke about the importance of the language used by funders and service providers.

“There is no such thing as a vulnerable child. No such thing as a disadvantaged or marginalised family” she said.

“There are children who experience vulnerability. There are children who are experiencing marginalisation. And there are families that experience those things. But if you give them an identity, that is so much more difficult to transform than an experience.”

3. Pilot programs based on evidence can impact government policy

State and Commonwealth Governments are starting to take notice of the evidence being produced by pilot employment programs aimed at long-term jobseekers, according to Melbourne University Professor of Economics Jeff Borland.

“Really all the initiatives consistent with the evidence in Australia have been coming from non-profits,” he said.

“Through the efforts of organisations like SVA, through the Industry Employment Initiative, not-for-profits have really been driving what best practice really is.

“My sense is that it has got to a level that is recognised within places like the Commonwealth Department of Employment.”

This points to the vital role philanthropists can play as upfront investors in initiatives that, in the future, have the potential to be adopted by government at scale.

For further information about how you can get involved with SVA’s Venture Philanthropy portfolio contact Director, Partnerships Katie McLeish