Helping community organisations tell the story of their social impact and attract more funding

Qut Course Large

Investing in organisational capability building for their community partners is a key component of Hand Heart Pocket’s refreshed strategy.

Recognising that time and financial constraints stop most community organisations from honing their skills in outcome measurement and impact evaluation, Hand Heart Pocket subsidised a QUT Short Course for 30 organisations so that their community partners, like Redland Community Centre, could participate.

Redland Community Centre (RCC) is described as the place where locals come to for help when they need it most. For many years the not-for-profit has built community wellbeing and supported the most marginalised to be resilient, providing everything from emergency relief, financial counselling and financial literacy, generalist counselling, No Interest Loans, family support, training courses, community workshops and events. They also deliver a successful homeless program, Homeless United, that over the last 4 years has supported over 400 people through the program and case-managed over 250 into sustainable housing; sadly Homeless United was defunded in November 2021 but continues to operate on community kindness in the form of financial donations.

Understandably there’s been more need in the community over the past year, and more urgency to attract funding to programs that work best to meet those needs. CEO Allison Wicks said of all those that needed their help during the past year, 25% had never had to ask for help before.

“Seeing the faces of those who have just lost a job or entered the uncertain world of being homeless for the first time can be overwhelming but we knew we had to rally around our community and keep Homeless United operating,” Ms Wicks said.

Allison and fellow leaders of RCC have been working behind the scenes to measure and understand the organisation’s social impact so that they can not only improve service delivery but also showcase to funders, policy makers and the wider community the difference that the right type of support makes for the people they serve.

This comes after Redland Community Centre participated in the new subsidised capability building course, facilitated by the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Non-Profit Studies (ACPNS) at the Queensland University of Technology Executive Education Centre (QUTeX).

RCC was one of 42 not-for-profit organisations to take part in the Social Impact Evaluation Principles and Practices course – learning how to develop a Theory of Change a vital communication tool, exploring data collection, understanding methods of evaluation and outcome measurement approaches as well as using this data to share stories of impact.

“The NFP space is a competitive environment with funding being both challenging to obtain and retain. Organisations, such as ours, are constantly engaging with our stakeholders, to understand their needs and moving to provide statistical evidence to funders which we know increases our community value,” Ms Wicks said.

“We hope to build on this using the valuable insights we have gained through this course.”

As a direct result of participating in the Social Impact Evaluation Principles and Practices course the Centre has recently secured funding for a pilot program, DFV Assist which will see the Centre support the low to moderate risk space in DFV within Redlands.  Learnings from the course were directly applied to the submission which included a comprehensive Theory of Change document.

Hand Heart Pocket CEO Sara Parrott said, “Strategic philanthropy is more than partnering with community organisations to support program delivery. It’s also about helping leaders within community organisations to build their capability so that they can drive impact from the top, to shape and evaluate their programs.”

“It’s about giving leaders a space to learn and to have access to valuable communities of practice, to share ideas and collaborate, all to create long-term change for the people they support and create systemic change together,” Ms Parrott said.

Next year the philanthropic foundation hopes to expand its partnership with QUT to develop a broader capability building program for not-for-profit leaders in the youth and families sector. Watch this space for more information.

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