A collaborative approach for effective social investment

By: Hanna Ebeling, CEO, Renee Martin, Head of Engagement and Anna Bowden, Head of Impact at Sefa   |   https://www.sefa.com.au/

Blacktown Youth Services Association (BYSA) has been changing the lives of disadvantaged and at-risk young people in Sydney’s Western suburbs for over 30 years. It offers a safe and engaging environment where people feel heard and included. But in 2021, it came very close to closing its doors for good. Sadly, this is a common reality for many grassroots organisations. With limited resources and little-to-no proof of impact, they often get overlooked by traditionally risk-averse funding bodies in favour of larger charities with established models. But with the ​help of philanthropic organisations, we can equip and empower brave organisations with big ideas to develop robust frameworks and build capacity – and change the future for vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.

Creating change, together

Meaningful change only happens when we take risks. When we think outside the box and try new things. 

At Sefa, we are building a supportive ecosystem that allows this to happen. We partner with purpose-driven organisations and investors to unlock social impact. While supporting the growth and resilience of purpose-driven organisations, we generate positive returns for investors. And that’s why we supported Blacktown Youth Services Association.

We know that where government, impact investors, organisations and philanthropy work together, we build capability and help create better outcomes for the community.

We want funders involved at the very start – the idea stage – of social enterprise, and commit to funding if the organisation meets agreed outcomes. Alongside our philanthropic partners, we can prepare organisations for funding, building their capability and strengthening their resilience so they can become sustainable and prove their impact.

This approach gives risk-averse funders such as governments more certainty around backing – and enables social enterprises to continue their critical work in the community.


Building capability and resilience

Thanks to two forward-thinking philanthropic organisations – the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation (VFFF) and Paul Ramsay Foundation (PRF) – BYSA kept its doors open. They saw the organisation’s unique youth-led model as an opportunity to make lasting change, and asked Sefa to help BYSA build its capacity and get it ready for future funding.

We worked with BYSA to define its purpose using a Theory of Change framework. It’s the first step in helping organisations move away from looking at outputs and focus on outcomes they want to unlock. Developing a Theory of Change framework helps crystallise the direction of an organisation, gets everyone on the same page and helps leaders make operational and strategic decisions – reducing risk for external funders.


Proving impact

For purpose-driven organisations, outcomes refer to the change they want to create in people’s lives. Measuring this change can be nuanced and challenging – but it is critical. It gives organisations their ‘why’, helps them make informed decisions and proves to funders that their programs are working.

Once a Theory of Change framework is in place, we help organisations like BYSA develop a simple and practical measurement program. We target three or four key areas, rather than trying to collect volumes of data, and set metrics for these. This provides clarity and focus on the change they’re trying to make and how to track it effectively – and helps organisations manage their impact.

More funders, including government, are starting to shift towards paying for outcomes rather than outputs – giving organisations more freedom around how they run their services, as long as they can prove they are working.

Once we helped set BYSA’s foundations and built its capabilities, VFFF and PRF granted the organisation multi-year funding. BYSA now has the resources, capacity and freedom to prove its outcomes over the next few years – and remove risk for government to fund an innovative idea.

Imagine if every grassroots organisation had the resources and capacity to realise their vision… We want to create a world where that’s possible. 

To hear more about how the innovative funding provided by the Paul Ramsay Foundation and the Vincent Fairfax Foundation allowed Sefa to develop outcome frameworks and build capacity for the Blacktown Youth Services Association, join us for our second Webinar of the year, Good Grantmaking - From the other side of the fence on Tuesday 5 April 12pm AEST. 

Mar. 24, 2022

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