Debate Asks Are There Too Many Not for Profits?
Tuesday, 21st May 2013 at 10:36 am
The question is often bandied around about the increase in organisations in the third sector and recently the NAB Corporate Volunteering group organised a public debate on the thorny question, ‘Are there too many Not for Profit organisations in Australia?’
The question saw two strong teams gather for a Great Debate and included speakers from a range of organisations who presented arguments both in support and against the topic.
Photo: Jessamy Gee
Editor of The Age’s The Zone, Michael Short joined with Alannah and Madeline Foundation CEO Judith Slocombe and Victorian AIDS Council Executive Officer Rowena Doo as part of the affirmative team.
Doo delivered a comical response as part of the affirmative team in attempt to convince the audience there are too many Not for Profits.
She said too many NFPs could be overwhelming and confusing for people because of the high number of competing “voices”.
“Every NFP has a voice and they deserve to have that voice heard- and fair enough too,” she said.
Doo said consolidating NFPs would result in a greater impact.
“Do we really need every sporting star having their own foundation?” Doo asked.
“Couldn’t we have an Australian Cricket Team foundation [instead of a number of individuals having their own] or, better still, link with a current organisation.”
Doo said it didn’t matter how many new organisations reared their head in the sector, there was still only “so much money to go around.”
Karma Currency Foundation CEO Ash Rosshandler, Ardoch Foundation CEO Mandy Burns and Reach Foundation CEO Sarah Davies made up the negative team with their point being there is never enough going on in the NFP sector.
Rosshandler told the audience that the NFP sector was responsible for significant job growth in the country.
“If employment is a bad thing then maybe it is a bad thing that there is too many non-profits,” he said.
“All you’re going to do is rip out small organisations who are doing great work on the ground, run by volunteers and run by passion.”
Rosshandler said it was ironic how people asked this question of the third sector but noone seemed to ask the question of other industries.
“Everyone seems to question the third sector and it just doesn’t make sense,” he said.
“The questioning doesn’t make sense and what we are proposing is that we put the third sector first.”
Ardoch Foundation CEO Mandy Burns said business in the NFP sector was booming.
“The GFC has created a boom in demand,” she said.
“Whether a NFP survives or thrives, the choice to start a NFP is a fundamental right.
“Being involved locally is a critical part of our social engagement.”
Reach Foundation CEO Sarah Davies said the third sector was greater than the tourism and agricultural sectors in Australia.
“Why are we talking about bringing a sector down?” she said.
“We need a vibrant, responsive, organic, market-driven sector.
“It is about the power of the market and the community to affect social change.
“Non profits are no different to business when it comes to demands and needs of the marketplace.”
In the end, the ‘negative’ team convinced the audience (with a show of placards) that there are not too many Not for Profit organisations in Australia!