As part of our commitment to the long-term success of the Not-For-Profit (NFP) sector, Deloitte Australia, Aon and Macquarie Bank, created the ‘Social Impact Forum’. It is a platform that brings together hundreds of NFP, government and business leaders together every quarter to hear from inspiring and thought provoking leaders about ideas that challenge the ‘status quo’ in delivering social change. This forum facilitates the growing collaboration across sectors to address society’s most challenging issues. Last month, we had the pleasure of hearing from former Queensland Premier and current CEO of YWCA NSW, Anna Bligh. Anna spoke on the importance of building a sustainable and vibrant NFP sector for the future. She shared her perspectives from government and from her firsthand experience as the CEO of YWCA NSW, including what she learnt from the transformation journey it has embarked upon. This unique opportunity offered our guests insights from a social leader who embodies our philosophy of connecting government, business and NFPs to deliver maximum social impact. The changing environment The Australian NFP sector is facing a period of unprecedented change and disruption. There are a number of externalities shaping the future landscape of the sector – including unprecedented government reforms, fierce competition for finite donor dollars, the rise of social enterprises, new market entrants, both for-profit & NFP, the emergence of new financing instruments, and digital disruption. Opportunities and challenges for the future These changes represent exciting opportunities and challenges for the future of the sector. As Anna indicated, the key will be in how leaders of the sector choose to respond to these opportunities and challenges, including: Financial Sustainability – Growing competition for funding may see organisations that have traditionally relied on a single source of funding overexposed to changes in government policy. This could have significant consequences for communities supported by the NFP sector, unless funding diversification is achieved. NFPs should seek opportunities to diversify and generate alternative revenue streams in order to become self-reliant and competitive. Interaction with the philanthropic sector – Donors increasingly want to engage with their NFP counterparts (known as ‘engaged philanthropy’) rather than just writing cheques. They want to go on the journey so they can understand the impact of their donations. So creating a unique customer experience for donors and reporting on impact, not outputs, will be increasingly important. Mergers & acquisitions – In order to achieve scale and maximum reach, it is inevitable that we will see a move towards reorganisation, mergers, and alliances across the sector. NFPs should give this appropriate consideration as they think through their longer-term strategic objectives, and seek opportunities to deliver services through collaborative models. Innovation and collaboration – “Innovation and thinking differently will be our biggest challenges just like they are for the for-profit sector.” Anna Bligh. Challenging the status quo through innovation and working alongside our corporate counterparts can bring the best from both worlds to deliver an impact that we won’t be able to achieve alone. The future As Anna suggested – to succeed in the future, we will need visionary leaders with the courage and capability to challenge the status quo and drive change. The future of a vibrant, sustainable and relevant not-for-profit sector depends on us getting these foundations right! Are you up for the challenge? Need help? The Social Impact Consulting Practice can work with you to embrace innovation, look at adjacent industries for disruptive ideas, leverage digital platforms, and embed data in decision-making. If you are interested in learning more about how we can partner with you, please contact Tharani Jegatheeswaran.