We would like to thank EY for their partnership in this event and their support of social impact measurement across Australia, in particular Mark Galvin, Les Hems and Nadae Cherradi.
The event was titled ‘The new paradigm of funding for outcomes” and we were lucky to have three amazing speakers approaching the subject from three different perspectives. Anna Bowen from the Office of Social Impact Investing NSW, Amy Tribe from the NIB Foundation and Melissa Abu-Gazaleh, CEO of Top Blokes Foundation.
First up was Anna Bowen. Anna spoke about how the government is moving away from grants based contract funding to a payment by outcomes contract commissioning system. She emphasised that funding for outcomes was simple and practical and that government needed to step back and let the NGOs do the work they do best. Anna also spoke about the pilot programs that have been developed such as the Newpin and Benevolent Society Bonds, Ontrack (focus on recidivism) and Resolve (focus on mental health). She also mentioned that two more pilots were going to be released in the near future. Anna’s view is that it is not just the social sector that needs capability investment, but also government and investors, so that decisions are made based on knowledge and training.
So what comes next? Anna outlined three main foci of OSII: scaling up these pilots to achieve measureable success for a larger population, the commissioning process and how NGOs are funded, and increasing the speed of their internal operations. Anna is a big believer in the positive knock on effects of this work across sectors. The main question they deal with is: how has a person’s pathway changed because of a service and how can they prove it? This is complex work of OSII, but as Anna says, it is very valuable and necessary work to do.
Next we heard from Amy Tribe from the NIB Foundation and we learnt that it isn’t just government who is commissioning for outcomes. Amy spoke about the journey of the NIB Foundation to realise the importance and value of including outcomes measurement into their grant applications and partnership agreements. The NIB Foundation supports health promotion and primary prevention initiatives creating positive lasting impacts in society.
Amy mentioned the importance of quality evaluations and leadership support to implement a new way of working. NIB began their return on objectives model and with the guidance of Social Ventures Australia (SVA) they developed a theory of change. They now have a core list of ten outcomes from which initiatives/partners must identify three that they focus on. The Foundation works with these partners to develop indicators, targets and measurement tracking methods. It is this commitment to and level of collaboration, which Amy says is key to achieving outcomes and showing the impact of their work.
Thirdly, we heard from Melissa Abu-Gazaleh (she was named 2016 NSW Young Australian of the Year among many other accolades). Melissa founded the Top Blokes Foundation, which focuses on the social education of young men with a goal to see that these young men are happy, healthy and safe within their communities. She saw an imbalance in the amount of mental health services aimed at young women, and the huge number of young men requiring these services. Top Blokes began their mentoring program to help guide and teach these young men, committing to weekly session because they recognised the importance of significant contact time and ongoing support. The Foundation then began to formalise their measurement of outcomes and looked at ways to qualify and quantify their work. They developed three fundamental aspects of their evaluation framework: to what degree are the services impacting on the young men’s attitudes, are the services helping to improve behaviours, and are the services increasing the skills of the young men, particularly in terms of mental health coping skills.
Although the Foundation uses internationally validated wellbeing scales that are age appropriate, the subjective nature of the questions is a difficulty in terms of perceived and actual growth of the young men. Top Blokes is currently half way through a social impact case control study which will result in an independently verified evaluation and add important weight to their cause and services provided. To wrap up Melissa advised organisations to customise their own evaluation framework to fit their specific services and clients, she also emphasised the time needed to figure out what works best – it is not an overnight process!
Thank you again to our speakers for being generous with their time and knowledge and participating in the event.
We hope to see you all at the next one!
Written by Jessica Smith