Paying What It Takes – a year of collaboration and exploration. Now, for 2023.

Jo Taylor Fri, 9 Dec 2022

By Jo Taylor

As we come to the end of the year the Paying What it Takes Steering Committee have taken a moment to celebrate the inaugural year of the Paying What it Takes Community of Practice (PWIT CoP) and the progress that we have made. Together, with you, our peers, we are building momentum for more of us in philanthropy to adopt a paying what it takes approach to funding and grant-making. 

What started as a conversation about Bridgespan’s work in the US over a cup of tea (thanks Sean Barrett) has turned into a strong alliance of diverse leaders across the For Purpose Sector sharing our experience and expertise to build the research and evidence to shift funding practice in Australia. 

Philanthropy Australia, the Centre for Social Impact, Social Ventures Australia, The Origin Foundation, the Paul Ramsay Foundation, Common Cause, May Miller Dawkins and I, have been working with our peers to research and develop robust funding and grant-making approaches that provide enough funding for For Purpose Organisations to cover all their operations, not just programs and services. 

We launched the PWIT report in March, followed by a series of workshops exploring strategy, finance tools and reframing indirect costs: a session on values-based communication. We collated the work in a masterclass at the PA conference; eight leaders have been participating in an action learning set focused on the practice of PWIT to explore the challenges associated with this work. All activities help us understand the challenges and practicalities of Paying What it Takes to create a long-term impact.

In Philanthropy Australia’s Better Giving Telescope Report released this week, Paying What it Takes is in the top ten ideas for 2023. The report says that

“Both not for profits and funders referred to the importance of the “Paying What It Takes” report. One not for profit described that it “features in their new strategy”, while several funders noted that it will shape their giving practices in the future.”

At every event, you have told us that Paying What it Takes is an important part of our maturing and development as a sector; an underpinning part of becoming even more effective in serving communities and driving change locally, nationally and globally.

You have also told us your priorities for the next phase of the PWIT CoP. You want us to continue to build a strong narrative; explore funding practice; embrace the wisdom of those we fund, a deeper focus on forms of evaluation that promote learning and grow our understanding of the social impact and more action learning sets.

You have also been forthright in calling for other priorities. How can we expand this conversation to all levels of government? What would it take for PWIT CoP to convene these conversations and shift practice within the government funding systems? There is plenty for us to get our teeth into in 2023 if we can raise the funding to facilitate the work. Ironically, if we can Pay What it Takesto work collaboratively on cross-sector issues that will increase our ability to create an impact! 

It has been a pleasure to hear from funders and partners about what a difference paying what it takes makes to for-purpose organisations. We have had such positive feedback from the strategy workshop earlier in the year and want to share the wisdom of these case studies with a larger audience.

So, we were delighted when Philanthropy Australia’s storyteller, Nick Richardson, suggested that he could work with the leaders from the strategy workshop to explore how each case study helps us understand more about PWIT. 

Thanks to the leaders who gave your time and expertise to the strategy workshop and these case studies. Jane Thomas, Program Manager, Sidney Myer Fund and The Myer Foundation, Anna Skarbek, CEO ClimateWorks, Rachel Kerry, Executive Officer, CAGES Foundation and Tara Leslie. CEO, Cullunghutti Aboriginal Child and Family Centre, Sally McGeoch, Senior Advisor, Westpac Foundation and Kylie Flament, CEO, Social Enterprise Council for NSW & ACT; Genevieve Timmons, Partnership Manager, Paul Ramsay Foundation, Louise Kuramoto, Head of Philanthropic Services, Australian Communities Foundation and Jody Barney, Deaf Indigenous Community Consultant and Chair, Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong. 

It has been a fun year of collaboration and exploration of the practice and challenges for paying what it takes. Thanks to the members of the Steering Committee, it has been a pleasure working with you all. In particular, Lynne Umbers and Sam Thorp have kept us on course with great humour and attention to detail. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Click here for some end-of-year reflections from three of the groups from the PWIT strategy workshops.