Funding community-led place-based practice

There is a growing movement of communities across Australia using place-based collaborative, long-term approaches to drive better outcomes for all. The ten20 Foundation, Social Ventures Australia and The Australian Centre for Social Innovation worked together to produce this report that recognises the need for a new holistic approach to address the complex and persistent challenges now impacting many localities, such as child vulnerability, poverty and intergenerational disadvantage.

Despite significant progress, many of these collaborative initiatives face ongoing uncertainty, especially with respect to funding. As it stands, there is a limited pool of funders who have the understanding, capacity, resource and/or appetite to engage in a way for the work to progress. Many initiatives are therefore struggling to maintain and/or grow sustainable funding streams, including with philanthropy.

The aim of this work was to document and share insights on the question of how to build and grow sustainable relationships between philanthropic funders and community-led, place-based initiatives. It focuses on the sustainability of the backbone function, anchoring its inquiry on three questions:

  1. How is funding for the backbone function currently structured and allocated to support community led, place-based initiatives across Australia?
  2. What helps or hinders funding to support local backbone practice?
  3. What guidance and support will help funders and community-led place-based initiatives improve and grow the relationships required for creating funding sustainability of the backbone function?

Guided by the principles of a learning cycle, the project methodology involved developing an understanding of the local context to surface insights in the form of case studies and testing these with key players from across the ecosystem at ChangeFest 2018. The synthesis of this learning was then used for idea generation using co-design with the intent to legitimise and expand the views and perspectives of practice. The project team was multidisciplinary, including members from ten20 foundation, our Consulting team and the Australian Centre for Social Innovation working in a collaborative and integrated way alongside participating communities and system influencers. The work is a synthesis of the collective knowledge and learnings of all who participated in the project with ownership jointly held by all.

The report’s primary audience is the philanthropic funders and communities (backbone leaders in particular) that engage in community-led innovation. It seeks to progress conversation and action amongst them in developing enabling relationships for sustainability and impact. The insights and tools offered may also be of relevance to new philanthropic funders considering entering this social investment space and to governments and systems influencers who shape the broader funder ecosystem.

Download paper

The report is available for download here.