CCA News - Autumn 2019
Dear CCA Members and Friends
At the end of last year, I was asked at a forum what I most wanted to see more of in 2019. I think I was meant to answer something like “more funding and support for charities” – in which case I probably disappointed the audience.
My answer was that if I could have anything, I would like to see a more compassionate Australia in 2019.
As we share the grief of our friends in New Zealand, we see from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern just what compassion and leadership look like. It is uniting, authentic, comforting and lighting a way for their community to emerge together from darkness and horror.
It is leadership to embrace. I hope we see it rise and triumph here and elsewhere. The choice to lead with compassion is up to each of us, and as I wrote in Pro Bono News last year (Compassion – a Radical Response?), now more than ever charities need to emphasise the values we enact and the value we create. We need to promote compassion, describe how we build it and why it matters.
Overviewed here is CCA’s work over the last few months, promoting and supporting the work and the role of our sector. We see enormous potential for government to plan and work better with our sector to realise better outcomes from government investment and to strengthen our communities. Our Pre-Budget Submission carries nine practical recommendations, key among them to work with the sector to plan for the future of the sector. It is unconceivable that any other industry employing one tenth of the Australian workforce and turning over more than $140bn per year would have no government interest or investment in a strategic vision for the health, sustainability and performance of that industry.
Curbing charities advocacy activity continues to be in the sights of some – despite the sector’s success in protecting our role in policy debate as electoral reform was legislated. This is an issue on which we remain vigilant (some of my media commentary is highlighted below). We are also concerned by developments at the ACNC as we await the Government’s response to the ACNC Review. The new Commissioner seems intent on dismantling so much of what made the ACNC a world-leading regulator as he crafts an ideological ‘donor market’ view of its role and operation.
If it didn’t already feel like an election campaign, it most certainly will from the moment the Treasurer hands down this year’s Budget. Having raised with Treasury the concerns of charities who are finding themselves left out of this year’s Budget lock-up, we remain somewhat perplexed about why community engagement with the most important policy document a Government produces has been obstructed with what seems to be a less than well planned process of invitation and decision making about who can or cannot come, combined with a diminishing room capacity issue. Treasury have assured us they will look to address our concerns in the future.
Finally, I am delighted that CCA with the support of the Origin Foundation and our partners have launched the first of our Australia we want solutions campaigns: It Takes a Village – Education is everyone’s business. We know education transforms lives and communities. This campaign asks us all to do what we can to encourage our kids to dream big and to stick with education. It is also a platform to amplify the stories of the impact of your work in supporting brighter futures for young people. Please get involved, engage your networks and help us nurture caring communities that value education.
Thank you for your support.
CEO Community Council for Australia
No planning - a plan to fail
Australia’s NFP sector is too important to our economy and our communities to meet the future without a plan.
Australian charities turnover more than $140bn each year, employ 1.3m Australians (10% of our workforce) and harness the passion, talent and energy of 2.9m volunteers. These facts tell only a small part of the story. The real value of the NFP sector is often in the unmeasured contribution to Australian quality of life. NFPs build connection, nurture spiritual and cultural expression, and enhance the productivity of all Australians. Collectively, they make us a more resilient society. Charities and NFPs are at the heart of our communities, and our economy, yet there is no plan, no strategy and no real projections supporting the future of the sector.
In almost a decade of CCA Pre-Budget Submissions to federal governments the issue of sector-wide planning has consistently been a priority for CCA members. The following recommendation was included in the CCA 2019 Pre-Budget Submission:
“Work with the NFP sector to develop a future blueprint for the sector, including extensive consultation; economic modeling of future scenarios; strategies to capitalise on emerging opportunities; and increased capacity to respond to emerging risks and limitations.”
Not waiting for government, CCA has been working with key members including: Philanthropy Australia; Impact Investing Australia; Volunteering Australia; the Centre for Social Impact; Pro Bono Australia; Community Broadcasting Association of Australia; Our Community; the Australian Scholarships Foundation; and Justice Connect on what process may best deliver a plan for the sector. As noted in the recommendation, such a plan must involve both wide consultation and deep consideration about the purpose of the sector. In a meeting partly facilitated by CCA Chair Tim Costello, four key principles emerged for our collective work towards the development of a sector wide plan:
1. Enhance what already exists. Add value to the work we all do.
We will need a sector that can better enhance what works and let go of what is not working if we are to be both sustainable and effective over the coming years.
2. Be sector-led and not compromised by a funder agenda.
In any planning for the sector the goal can never be about satisfying the biggest funders (governments) or a mythical market concerned about overheads and fundraising costs. The goal cannot even be about trying to ensure growth. The sector needs to own its own future and to do so it will need to articulate what it wants to achieve and demonstrate a sustainable balance between strategies that are about effectiveness in achieving purpose versus strategies that focus on generating income streams to sustain organisational activities.
3. Build sector capacity and appetite for investing in capacity.
The priority for most charities is doing their work, providing their services, running their programs. Investment in organisational capacity is seen as taking resources away from these priorities even though investing in capacity can make organisations more effective and efficient in the medium and longer term. A more sustainable charities sector with enhanced capacity to serve our communities will require a different approach in addressing the issue of organisational capacity.
4. Recognise where we are strong and where we are weak.
To fully understand the value of their work, charities need to be involved in measurement, evaluation, and engagement. All of these activities take time, resources and skills that are often not readily available within charities.
Rather than focusing on where we are and what is wrong with the sector, we need to start with where we want to go. Developing a future sector wide plan will require government engagement and support.
In the lead up to the next election, CCA will be seeking policy responses from all political parties in relation to future planning for the charities sector.
(An excerpt from Our Failure to Plan is a Plan to Fail – the Future of the Charities Sector, David Crosbie in Pro Bono News, 28 February 2019.)
Investing in People who Make a Difference
CCA calls for a three per cent levy on government contracts for essential capacity building
- Charities in Australia receive over $60 billion in government grants.
- Most funding is relatively short term – less than three years.
- Often, funding barely covers the cost of the deliverables stipulated in government contracts. Some contracts require cross-subsidisation or underwriting from the charity.
- Investment in sector capacity has been miniscule.
- Quality, productivity, sustainability, and effectiveness are all significantly enhanced when there are well-trained, skilled and experienced staff and volunteers engaged in service provision, leadership and governance.
Each year Australian governments channel over $60 billion dollars through charities and not-for profits to provide critical services and supports to communities across Australia, with little or no consideration or commitment to supporting the capacity of the sector.
CCA’s Pre-Budget Submission calls for a three per cent levy to be applied to government funding of charities and not-for-profits. This measure would enable more appropriate investment into sector capacity building including; training and development, research, and uptake of technology.
CCA is keen to work with central agencies (treasury and finance) to examine how such a levy might work across the various government departments, but the fundamental requirement would be that departments investing hundreds of millions of dollars in program delivery through charities and not for profits would have to demonstrate that they are also investing in the capacity of the sector to provide the best possible services. In practice, this means offering government funded charities and not for profits increased support for capacity building, either within grant programs or as an additional investment. (It would not be deducted from grant funding).
See Investing in People Who Make a Difference, David Crosbie in Pro Bono News, 31 January 2019
CCA's Pre-Budget Submission
CCA’s Budget Submission recommends nine measures we believe could be delivered within the next two years and produce a much stronger government budget position and build capacity and resilience in our communities. These measures would improve productivity; boost philanthropy and workplace giving; grow access to capital and impact investing; reform DGR; and review the generous tax concessions given to mutual organisations on gaming, catering, entertainment and hospitality income.
Read CCA’s Budget Submission: http://communitycouncil.com.au/content/cca-pre-budget-submission-2019-2020
CCA launches community-led campaign to step Australia toward the Australia we want
When CCA first brought sector leaders together to discuss the Australia we wanted to live in, agreeing the priority values we all supported was relatively straight-forward. We all wanted to live in a just, fair, safe, equal opportunity, inclusive, united, authentic, creative, confident, courageous, optimistic, generous, kind, compassionate Australia.
Commitment to these values was shared. Agreeing how we would know these values were being implemented – the measures or indicators – was more challenging. There was one area everyone in the room readily agreed had to be a priority indicator – access to education. Education changes lives, reduces inter-generational inequality, and creates opportunity.
After 18 months of work with leaders and experts, and the support of Origin Foundation, CCA members and a host of partner organisations, CCA launched the It Takes a Village – Education is everyone’s business campaign.
It Takes a Village is a community-led national media and social media storytelling campaign that will highlight the positive role caring communities can play in helping our young people realise optimistic and confident futures. It is a call to every adult to think about the young people in their lives, to do more to encourage their aspirations and to support them with positive relationships. It is also a foundation for our sector to get involved with to see the stories of their work and their impact told and shared. David Crosbie talks with ABC News Breakfast on launch day, 12 March:
Chair, Tim Costello told Sky News that, 'It takes a wider community to say 'you matter' - 'you matter to us.'
The campaign launch was carried by over 50 metro and regional radio stations. Press coverage included a feature story, It really does take a village: This is what's keeping Lachy in school, in the Sydney Morning Herald and Canberra Times.
Our thanks to some amazing young people, CCA members and partners for beginning the storytelling. Read Lachy's story in the SMH and catch some wonderful video case studies with Chris, John, Zahra, James and Abdelmasih and Ben at https://ittakesavillage.org.au/meet-the-village/
CCA in other NewsLoneliness and Villages, 14 March, David Crosbie writes in Pro Bono News that being a part of the It Takes A Village campaign has highlighted how important it is that we think about the village around not just our students, but each member of our community, as he reflects on our increasing levels of loneliness and disconnectedness.
Fix Fundraising Frustrated by Senate Report,18 February, CCA (with the #fixfundraising coalition) said the report failed to describe a way forward and didn’t back any of the options for reform that were put forward. David said that confidence placed in the states and territories to work together to an agreed solution, was misplaced. ‘In well over a decade of attempts to arrive at workable regulations in this area, the states and territories have consistently shown themselves to be incapable of achieving a consistent response.’
Dead Fish, Criminal Bankers, Aged Care Abuse – Where are the Regulators? 14 February, David Crosbie writes that while the popular media debate about government performance often focuses on political games and short-term point scoring, what matters most in our communities is the quality of government services and effective regulation that protects us all.
High Court Ruling Another Win for Charitable Advocacy, David tells Pro Bono News as a consequence of the ruling, no government or political party in Australia could impose limitations on charities greater than the limitations imposed on political parties. ‘This is a win for democracy and a win for all non-political campaigners.’
Charity Advocates Ask, ‘What is Dr Gary Johns hiding?’, 25 January, David comments on the denial of FOI requests relating to the ACNC staff survey, and tells Pro Bono News that the important questions here are around what issues staff had raised and what steps have been taken to address their concerns.
Superficial Proxy Measures – the Economist’s Folly, 17 January, David Crosbie writes that even the best economic proxy measures can only partly explain what is at the heart of charities’ work. A response to the Tulipwood Economics report commissioned by the ACNC to inform indicators for Object 1 (b) of the ACNC Act.
Audit Finds $443M Government Grant Process ‘Insufficient’,17 January, David asks, ‘If $440 million can be allocated to an unsuspecting charity within three days, why is every other grant giving process made so onerous for charities?’
GetUp Foreign Donation Questioned, 14 January, David comments on criticism of GetUp funding disclosures by Liberal Senator Abetz, saying that in comparison to the Liberal Party, GetUp was incredibly transparent about its funding sources and how it would be used. ‘They are saying exactly how much was given and how it will be used. The Liberal Party do not provide this level of disclosure even though they seek to govern Australia. That is why CCA supports stronger disclosure requirements on all political parties and associated entities.’
Creative Innovation 2019, Melbourne, 1-3 April: promises a world-class line-up of over 40 visionary innovators, futurists and leaders on the theme of “Human Intelligence 2.0 – A Collective Future? How will we manage the transition?”
Transform, Melbourne, 8-10 May: Connecting Up’s annual conference for NFPs interested in innovation, harnessing technology and finding solutions to enhance engagement and impact within their communities and improve organisational performance. (CCA will be there, with David Crosbie speaking on 10 May).
NFP Law Webinars from Justice Connect, upcoming topics include We’re All in This Together – Employees, Volunteers and the Law; Starting a Not-for-profit; and Screening Checks for NFPs.
Our work is made possible by our members. If you are not already a member and would like to support a strong, independent voice that can speak up on issues that affect the future of our sector, please contact Deb on 02 6198 3435, Deborahs@communitycouncil.com.au
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