01 March 2016

Fostering and creating an ecosystem for innovation

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The Not for Profit sector has been the fastest growing industry group in Australia with a rise of 40% in sector turnover in the last six years to over $107 billion.

“Despite these figures the sector has never felt poorer,” says a report by the Community Council for Australia.

With the sector growth wave now receding, government and Not for Profit organisation’s needs and funders expectations have risen. Funding bodies are now either cutting back or changing expectations on their impact and outcomes.

Not for Profits need to recognise that resources are becoming limited so it is essential to harness existing resources and use them as efficiently and effectively as possible.

We could continue to just talk about the social challenges facing communities across Australia and emerging trends disrupting the space, but let’s discuss how to take the necessary steps to revolutionise your organisations to stay sustainable.

Reviewing business models can make all the difference during these uncertain times. As funding strains, specifically revising your funding models to ensure they are continuously being innovative and produce positive returns.

George Liacos, Managing Director of Spark Strategy, says in a ProBono article,

"The key to picking the right funding model is not about the funding model at all. To get it right, leaders need to think beyond the funding model, and unearth the sustainable business model.”

“It’s no big secret that the key to nailing the business model is to nail the value proposition. The tricky bit is that value is not static. What stakeholders value today will most likely change tomorrow.”

George Liacos suggests Not for Profit Leaders do two things:

  1. Anticipate the long term future value demanded by their communities; and
  2. Generate ideas for adaptive business models to deliver this future value better than anyone else.
Fostering and creating an ecosystem for innovation can help to allow your employees the space to generate and drive new ideas. Driven by leadership, innovative business models will serve as a tool for maximising and measuring social impact.

Integrating a strong business structure and operational strategy, whilst using business innovation strategies, will assist to drive a sustainable social mission.

In the Community Council for Australia report, CCA states clear and useful messages and recommendations what Not for Profit organisations should do:

  • Achieving the purpose should be the primary focus of the organisation
  • All organisations need to develop appropriate measures and reports about their success
  • Put the future of your organisation in your in-tray
  • Regularly review the tangible and intangible assets of your organisation
  • All NFPs should seek to understand risk and opportunity as it relates to their organisation
  • All investment should be informed by a sound business case
  • Communicate value and diversify income streams to address funding vulnerability
  • Mergers and collaboration may help leverage assets and better achieve purpose, but they are not a quick fix solution. Governance models should be challenged to ensure the best fit for purpose
  • Impact investment and social entrepreneurship require time, effort and expertise to make a positive return
  • Investing in other NFPs can be an asset leveraging strategy that contributes to mission
  • All Boards should have an investment policy and strategy informed by the need to better fulfill the organisational purpose
  • All CEOs should recognise their responsibility to leverage whatever assets the organisations has to better fulfill the organisational purpose
  • There is a role for intermediaries to assist NFPs in better using their assets
  • The sector needs to invest in itself to create the future that it wants


How can innovation drive continuing growth and sustainability?

How can they be adapted to the Australian landscape to enhance funding and investment to enhance impact and value?


Answer these questions and gain further insights from Not for Profit leaders at Akolade’s Innovative Business Models for Not for Profits Conference.

After finishing University with a degree in Business Marketing, I decided to make a big jump across seas for the first time and move from the east coast of America to Sydney, Australia. I landed my first job in a sales position in the event industry and soon thereafter moved into a marketing assistant role – following I had the pleasure of interviewing with Akolade which got me to where I am today.

Akolade is a fun, innovative company that brings together people from different walks of life to implement change. As the Marketing Manager, I have the pleasure of wearing many hats which motivates me to succeed, reach people in an array of avenues, grow our events to their full potential, and raise our story. As for me, I am a kind dedicated woman who loves to work hard, exercise, cook, be social and have some fun.

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