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Opinion  |  Good Business

Channeling Best Intentions

Thursday, 17th May 2018 at 8:36 am
Vicki Sutton
The social sector has a responsibility to partner with corporates for maximum social impact, writes Melbourne City Mission CEO Vicki Sutton.

Thursday, 17th May 2018
at 8:36 am
Vicki Sutton



Channeling Best Intentions
Thursday, 17th May 2018 at 8:36 am

The social sector has a responsibility to partner with corporates for maximum social impact, writes Melbourne City Mission CEO Vicki Sutton.

In Australia corporates are under increasing pressure to contribute to more authentic social impact. And there are a growing number of corporates and individual philanthropists who genuinely want to do more to support positive social change.

As a sector we have a responsibility to help channel these good intentions into the places where they can have the greatest impact, and to provide inspiration and opportunity for corporates to realise just how much of a difference they can make.

Traditionally, corporate contributions to social change have concentrated mostly on philanthropy and skilled volunteering – both highly valuable, but sometimes only skimming the surface of what is possible. An exciting new breed of corporate-community partnerships are combining these traditional approaches with a willingness to cooperate more fully to create even broader impacts than previously imagined.

Smart corporate partnerships can open up new opportunities, foster innovation, and even create whole new models that offer both economic and social benefits.

Collaborative strategic partnerships can express themselves in many ways, especially when the partners’ purpose and proposition are well-aligned.

Corporates may:

  • discover opportunities to procure products and services from social enterprises (creating employment opportunities for vulnerable people, and sustainable sources of funding);
  • provide their expertise to the creation of for-purpose business plans;
  • open up networking and influencing opportunities for not for profits and add their backing to important social causes;
  • refer vulnerable customers to appropriate services, enabling earlier intervention and support;
  • offer a break-even version of their product or service targeting a specific community need; or
  • choose to invest in impact investments – ventures that generate a social or environmental return (such as affordable housing or a reduction in greenhouse emissions) as well as a financial return (which may be on par with mainstream investments).

Meanwhile, for-purpose organisations may:

  • contribute valuable insights to user and customer experience design;
  • support the development of profitable new products and services that promote greater inclusion of marginalised communities; or
  • provide valuable data and expertise to the development of more environmentally sustainable (and sometimes more economical) practices.

The opportunities are endless.

Currently Melbourne City Mission is working in an exciting partnership with the Property Industry Foundation and the Victorian government to redevelop Melbourne City Mission’s Frontyard youth crisis service centre into a world-first, innovative, youth crisis service and accommodation centre, designed to disrupt the cycle of homelessness for Victoria’s most vulnerable young people.

While Frontyard already provides a leading crisis service for young people experiencing homelessness in Australia, we still see too many young people falling through the cracks due to the complexity of their needs. The new Frontyard will be a revolutionary approach that will, under one roof, provide both a safe place to sleep and the full range of support services required to support young people with the most complex combination of needs – this has never been done before and will be Australia’s first fully integrated response to youth homelessness.

We could not deliver a project like this without the amazing commitment and expertise Property Industry Foundation members are bringing to it, including top tier legal, project management , architecture, town planning, building surveying, engineering, building, disability, waste management consulting services, all offered pro-bono. The incredible support from Property Industry Foundation members for the project so far is already in excess of 1,500 hours and represents valuable funds we have not had to raise for the project.

This Thursday, Melbourne City Mission’s annual Sleep at the ’G will partner with many corporates and individuals to continue to raise much-needed funds to invest in bringing the new Frontyard service model to life. But it will be more than fund-raising.

It will be a chance to build and express our collective empathy for vulnerable young Victorians facing financial hardship, disadvantage, and in many cases, family violence and its associated ongoing effects on physical and mental health, and learning and employment outcomes. It will be a chance to raise corporate consciousness of youth homelessness, and increase awareness of how corporates can bring more of their resources to contribute more comprehensively to this multifaceted issue.

There is power in partnership. And there is so much more potential to be tapped for the benefit of all, when we work together to channel best intentions into places where they can make the most difference.

About the author: Vicki Sutton is the CEO of Melbourne City Mission.

Vicki Sutton  |  @ProBonoNews

Vicki Sutton is the chief executive officer of Melbourne City Mission.

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