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Karen's thoughts on the Social Economy

Farewell 2012, Hello 2013

Thursday, 13th December 2012

Of all the sectors in Australia this Not for Profit sector is the one I’m most proud to be going into in 2013. It’s the most dynamic and optimistic – and many very good brains are being applied to the issues that surround it and forming its future. 2012 has been a very big year for the sector and an even bigger year for Pro Bono Australia.

There is no doubt that there is a movement, in fact many movements, happening within the sector or around it (think Impact Investment, social enterprise), in tandem with a general societal shift to look at new ways of doing business, new ways of fixing social issues and new ways of engaging.

Each week I am approached with new ideas, many of them using technology, to grow philanthropy, to engage citizens, to solve issues. The proliferation of activity is truly astonishing and inspiring and involves both people from inside and outside the sector bringing in new solutions. This heralds optimism for 2013 and beyond.

On the home front it’s been a record breaking year for Pro Bono Australia as one of Australia’s first social businesses. We seem to have hit a sweet spot and we are celebrating the biggest growth year in our 12 year history – with News, Source Guide, Jobs Board and VolunteerMatch all growing in leaps and bounds.

Pro Bono Australia has seen a 100% growth year on year in the total number of visitors to our website in 2012 and generating in almost 20,000 unique subscribers to our all our online services including News, Jobs and Corporate Community.

2012 has also been the year of great partnerships. Accounting and finance peak body, CPA Australia and Pro Bono Australia teamed up this year in an exciting online initiative matching finance professionals with Not for Profit organisations whether they work in a paid, voluntary or pro bono capacity through our highly successful VolunteerMatch service. As well we have been media partners with many Not for Profit Conferences and Forums.

We have launched our Corporate Community site with fortnightly Impact emails providing news, expert opinion and in depth discussion on all aspects of Corporate Social Responsibility from an Australian and global perspective.

Our highly successful Jobs service has doubled, our Guide to Giving this year included a re-designed editorial section to help and inspire those wanting to give and we published a print version of our Source Guide for the first time as well.

And to top it off, the huge response to our Executive Salary Survey will see us publish the results to the sector at the end of January.

I look forward to continuing the work Pro Bono Australia has been doing in the sector for the last 13 years – and to introducing the new initiatives that we have on the table for 2013.

We are currently planning for 2013 – so please tell me if there is anything you think we should be doing – or could be doing, changes you’d like to see… You can email

So, have a great break, hug the ones you love, be kind to those you know – and we will see you in 2013.


Karen Mahlab AM is the Founder and CEO of Pro Bono Australia. In 2015 she was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for her contribution to the Not for Profit sector and philanthropic initiatives.
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