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Budget Outcome: Communicating NFP Impact

19 May 2015 at 11:22 am
Lina Caneva
In the wake of the Federal Budget, the days of Government support for the Not for Profit sector are somewhat limited but solving social issues starts with communication, writes Perth-based community advocate and researcher, Conrad Liveris.

Lina Caneva | 19 May 2015 at 11:22 am


Budget Outcome: Communicating NFP Impact
19 May 2015 at 11:22 am

In the wake of the Federal Budget, the days of Government support for the Not for Profit sector are somewhat limited but solving social issues starts with communication, writes  Perth-based community advocate and researcher, Conrad Liveris.

When meeting with politicians, our industry is leveraged by similar critiques. “We need practical solutions, we want a return on investment, or you need to apply the economics impacting budgets, because Government has limited resources.”

These are the frustrating and tired excuses leveraged by a superficial understanding of the contributions of Not for Profits.

Research has consistently found that targeted investment in the community pays off, including studies by PwC, the Centre for Social Impact, and Stanford University.

In the field in which I primarily operate, homelessness and housing, moderate increases in funding can be revolutionary.

Current homelessness funding sits at about $115 million a year, a policy formed out of the White Paper on Housing and Homelessness. An enlightened piece of public policy that has been left to wane.

All Governments are focused on reducing costs and the return on investment. I guess we feel this first and most deeply in the Not for Profit sector, and thankfully we can show this data and impact.

Last week I heard John Howard muse on this most recent Federal Budget. He highlighted the “fortuitous state of the economy”.

And while this Budget has gifted so much to the Liberal Party base of small business and ageing Australia, as noted by Howard, there are many left wanting and confused.

When politicians discuss tax reform they want to maximise the financial capacity of their Governments. Mr Howard mentioned economic reform as a key goal that this Government should focus on, but let’s not get our hopes up because this discussion has been delayed too many times before.

The reality is that Government spends a lot of time putting out fires, literally and figuratively. We know that targeted investments into communities and organisations doing innovative work pays off. But there’s a political-understanding gap.

In my home state, WA, homeless services battle for $11 million funding. Even doubling that pales in comparison to a potential $30 billion being spent on 12 submarines.

As we are told, the future of our sector is dependent on non-government funding. Through philanthropists, corporate partnerships and other mechanisms.

The demands from Government relations are changing.

Government wants to understand the social and financial outcome of their investment. And while the social aspect should be the focus, increasingly there is a concern about employment and economic capacity.

That sort of modelling is not difficult. With some certainty economists can tell you how much money you need to double the workforce.

On top of this, there is the PR game too. Why would a Government, indeed a politician representing a particular region, back your idea? If you are not planning on engaging with their community, a level of buy-in is invaluable.

It says that there is broad support. The days of Government support for our sector are somewhat limited. Priorities have changed. What can be taken from this, though, is that our sector is best placed to meet the challenges of Government.

We can solve the community and social issues at hand. It starts with communication.

About the Author: Conrad Liveris is an adviser and researcher on the politics and economics of diversity, and a co-founder of homeless advocacy and education Not for Profit, Street Smugglers. @ConradLiveris | Find me on LinkedIn

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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