Action Philanthropy Lecture – ‘Giving the Boffins Something to Measure’
14 March 2013 at 11:17 am
How does a large international social-justice philanthropic agency negotiate its way between the impulse to act and its duty to account for impact? ask Swinburne University of Technology Professor John Fitzgerald.
Prof Fitzgerald will discuss the role of measuring the social impact of philanthropy in his inaugural lecture as the Truby and Florence Williams Charitable Trust Chair in Social Investment and Philanthropy at the Asia-Pacific Centre for Social Investment and Philanthropy at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne tonight.
The lecture has the provocative title of Action Philanthropy – Giving the Boffins Something to Measure
Professor Fitzgerald will draw from his five years with the Ford Foundation in Beijing where he developed the overall strategy and direction of the foundation’s work in China.
He questions whether private philanthropy should follow the trend of government and corporate social programs in placing increasing emphasis on short-term measurements of social impact.
“As the focus of many organisations shifts from making impact to demonstrating impact, the risk is that what will be measured is the quality of the evaluation or the ‘robustness’ of evaluation processes, rather than the quality of the work done in generating impact,” Professor Fitzgerald said.
“There are many good reasons for measuring and evaluating outcomes and impact, each calling for a distinctive approach and possibly for a different measurement tool.
Professor Fitzgerald said private philanthropy was better equipped than government agencies or commercial investors to bear risk in support of innovation.
But philanthropy’s natural appetite for risk was placed at risk when accountability practices were geared to measuring and reporting successful short-term outcomes and impacts.
“Through its appetite for innovation and risk taking, private philanthropy can help to expand access to public goods and improve the delivery of government services.
“Australia needs more risk-taking innovation. We also need more open, critical and inclusive discussion of how philanthropy can make a real difference to our communities, our environment, and our well-being.”
Managed by ANZ Trustees – part of ANZ Global Wealth and Private Banking – the Truby and Florence Williams Charitable Trust began after the death of Truby Williams in 1941 and focuses on enhancing the skills, reach and capability of charitable organisations and institutions that are important to our social fabric.
Event: 2013 APCSIP Commencement Lecture: Action philanthropy – giving the boffins something to measure
When: Thursday 14 Mar 2013 6:00pm – 7:30pm Where: ANZ Docklands, 833 Collins Street, Docklands