Leading non-profit figures debated the need for rationalisation in the sector at an exclusive breakfast event hosted by Social Ventures Australia (SVA) and the Macquarie this morning.
The event, the first of a series in Melbourne, aims to stimulate discussion around a topic raised in the SVA Quarterly, Australia’s leading management publication for the social sector.
More than 50 non-profit CEOs from across Victoria participated as Tim Costello AO, CEO of World Vision and Jan Owen AM, CEO of the Foundation for Young Australians debated ‘the non-profit sector in Australia needs to be rationalised’ – with Ms Owen arguing the affirmative and Mr Costello the negative.
SVA Consulting Executive Director, Duncan Peppercorn commented, ‘Merger and acquisition advocates suggest that consolidation in the non-profit sector would reduce overheads and the pressures on fund raising. But the greatest benefit is likely to be in better services, rather than cost savings. This can frequently be achieved through collaboration rather than integration and merger.’
‘We need to get better at looking for opportunities to improve outcomes through tighter collaboration. Non-profit organisations, service delivery and – critically – funders all have important roles to play in this.’
Ms Owen spoke of the high fragmentation in the sector, and the importance of thinking critically about where there is unmet need.
Mr Costello commented that there is already great collaboration in the sector and that the diversity that exists can strengthen innovation and flexibility. He also warned that consolidation can have significant costs as well as benefits.
Both speakers acknowledged that mergers were not ideally suited to the many non-profits that were small and local based.
The issue of non-profit mergers, collaboration and partnerships is explored in the latest issue of the SVA Quarterly, which is supported by Macquarie.
It is available online here SVA Quarterly.