Webinar series reflections: A replicable model of collaborative philanthropy for systemic change

By: Emily Cormack and Cynthia Scherer

We asked some of our presenters and audience members to reflect on our webinar: A replicable model of collaborative philanthropy for systemic change, which looked into the impact philanthropy has made to improve the experiences and outcomes of children and young people who have an out-of-home care experience.

Webinar: A replicable model of collaborative philanthropy for systemic change
Presenter reflection by: Emily Cormack, Grant Program Manager at Equity Trustees

Last week’s panel ‘A replicable model of collaborative philanthropy for systemic change’ gave us the opportunity to reflect on the value of collaboration and how this has been demonstrated through the Out of Home Care Funders Network. 

More importantly, we discussed the impact that innovation and collaboration can have in driving systemic change.

Deb Tsorbaris, CEO of The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, painted a clear picture of the Centre’s involvement as the facilitator of the network – demonstrating their ability to work with the funders – but also their deep understanding of the child and family services sector. Deb highlighted the complexity of the child protection system, and the need for innovation to change the numbers of children in care. Deb touched on the stages of the development of the network -highlighted in the OoHC Funders Case Study and some of its successes through working with the sector. This has included the network’s first innovation grant to Brighter Futures, support for the Home Stretch campaign and finally the current innovation grant with VACCA for Growing Up Aboriginal Babies at Home.

Kirsty Allen from The Sidney Myer Fund and I spoke from the funder’s perspective about the different features of the model and why we think the network has been successful. I really liked Kirsty’s reminder that working together can often mean simply turning up; being ready to compromise and funders not coming with projects in their back pocket that they want funded.

Prof Muriel Bamblett, CEO of VACCA Adjunct, highlighted the over representation of Aboriginal children in care and VACCA’s approach to changing this… something we hope the latest innovation grant will support is to ensure more Aboriginal babies stay with their families and out of care. For me it was Muriel’s reminder of the importance of self-determination and ensuring that we continue to support communities, rather than imposing our solutions on them which has left me thinking all week.

Webinar: A replicable model of collaborative philanthropy for systemic change
Attendee reflection by: Cynthia Scherer, General Manager at 
The Anthony Costa Foundation

Collaboration is a word that is bandied about often in the philanthropic world. I think inherently we know it is good to collaborate, but sometimes the how can escape us.

The recent Philanthropy Australia event “A replicable model of collaborative philanthropy for systemic change” provided a concrete example of how funders can and are engaging in collaborative philanthropy through the Out of Home Care Philanthropy Funders Network.

This Network was established in 2017 and has been bringing together funders around a “wicked problem” confronting our community – Out of Home Care.

The data around the problem is staggering – 1 in 50 children experience out of home care by their 17th birthday in Vic, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 10 times more likely to be in out of home care than non-aboriginal children, 35 percent of young people leaving care become homeless within 12 months.

The event offered a chance to hear from multiple perspectives (peak body facilitator, funders, grantees) about this collaborative model. There were a number of learnings shared that struck me as useful, not only in the context of funder collaboratives, but in funders collaborating with grantees or funders supporting grantee collaborations. Some of these included:

Resourcing – collaboration doesn’t just happen, it takes time and intentional effort to nurture collaboration. This means dedicating resources to support the process of collaboration.
Working together – an essential element of collaboration is relationships. This means investing in getting to know each other and taking the time to build trust.
Sustained commitment – it is important to understand that real change, systemic change takes time. This means engaging in and committing to the collaboration for the long haul.

But perhaps the most important learning shared was that of amplified voices and impact.

Every perspective represented noted the power of collaboration for impact, especially with complex social issues. And isn’t that what it’s really all about? Isn’t that fundamentally the business philanthropy is in? Creating impact and change?

I am buoyed by the sharing of these learnings and these understandings because they help philanthropy be better. And others are already using these learnings to be better, including the Family Violence Philanthropy Funder Collaborative (established in 2018) and the Geelong Funder Collaborative (established in 2019). So, I look forward to more funders engaging in collaborative philanthropy and the impact and change it will bring.

Philanthropy Australia invites you to engage with best practice philanthropy and prescient philanthropic thinking at our newly launched webinar series. Join us at our five remaining webinars taking place from June through to September here.

Jun. 11, 2021

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