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NFPs need to become more outcome-focused to attract funding

3 min read

In an interview with ABC Wide Bay QLD, Crosbie said that “in an ideal world” there would be a “stockmarket for good”.

“Anyone who wanted to invest in achieving better social outcomes could go on this stockmarket, choose the area they want to invest in…and they get a return,” explained Crosbie. “We don’t actually have that, but that’s the kind of direction that things are moving overseas, where people who can show that they can produce an outcome are able to attract better investment.”

Crosbie said that although many Australian organisations are “doing good work”, they were not documenting or marketing this fact well, which created a challenge for the sector when it comes to attracting funding.

According to Crosbie, this shift is necessary because although the sector has seen “substantial and sustained growth” of over 5 per cent over the past decade with a “very big economic footprint” (the sector now turns over $1 billion, employs approximately 1 million Australians and contributes approximately 5 per cent of GDP), it has been struggling to recover from the Global Financial Crisis since 2008–09.

Crosbie said that a decrease in revenue due to a decline in private philanthropy and the stalling of government program funding has resulted in a reduced capacity for the sector to serve the community.

NFPs have had to diversify funding, with Crosbie saying that they can no longer rely on government and philanthropy to the same degree that they used to.

“There’s much greater interest in [overseas] patterns of investment…where you get mixed investment,” he said. “Governments will provide a dividend or payment if you can reduce their costs, [such as] if you can keep someone out of prison or out of foster care. [NFPs] can also get the private sector to invest in services, and because they are getting a dividend from government, they can pay a return on that investment. So you’re getting a kind of social investment area growing, and that’s what I think we need to talk about.”

Crosbie touched on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) in the interview as well.

When it comes to the impact the NDIS will have on the sector, Crosbie believes the “bottom line” is how much extra money will be available to provide the services that are needed. “Putting extra money into the system is great, but we’ve got to make sure that the existing investment in disability continues, otherwise there’s a chance that we could lose it,” he said.

Crosbie also reiterated his support for the ACNC, which he hopes the government will allow to continue. He said that “everyone agrees” that reverting to the Australian Tax Office as a charity regulator would not be effective, and discussed the “fantastic work” the ACNC has achieved in the year it has been operating, including creating an online register of all Australian charities, the reduction of red tape, and the development of a charities passport.

Crosbie, who will be speaking at Third Sector Expo 2014 in early April, said that he hoped the event would result in more attention being paid to the sector’s views, especially from government. He also indicated that the event would provide an opportunity for individual NFPs to unite to consider the long-term future of the entire sector.

“We’re so busy trying to serve our communities and…trying to survive into the next financial year that often we don’t lift our heads above that battle and try and look at the whole sector and where we’re going,” he explained.

The full ABC interview with Crosbie can be accessed here.

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