Social Impact Leadership Australia - Building Sector Capacity
SILA – Social Impact Leadership Australia – is the culmination of three years of research, planning and development, involving a collaboration of four funding partners, leading to a joint investment of $9.6 million over five years in the leadership of Australia’s for-purpose sector.
VFFF is delighted to be working alongside The Myer Foundation, Sidney Myer Fund, Paul Ramsay Foundation and our delivery partner The Centre for Social Impact.
Capacity building in Australia’s for-purpose sector is under-resourced, as a result of funding models that limit organisational support and a culture that devalues investment in organisational development and the support and development of the sector’s leaders.
“Actually having funders say ‘this is valuable and a legitimate use of philanthropic funding’, is the start, it’s all of it, really. Because most of the reason we underinvest in ourselves…is because we are constantly bidding for money that is closely scrutinised, and generally defined by measurable activity, outputs and outcomes” For-purpose CEO, from sector research to inform SILA program development, 2019.
The philanthropic partners spent considerable time developing the idea of SILA, informed by for-purpose sector research and the specific needs of this sector. The stages involved:
- Researching existing offerings, both within Australia and internationally
- Interviews locally and internationally with philanthropic trusts and foundations, including with major US foundations on their success from investing for over 15-20 years in for-purpose sector leadership programs
- Analysis of the Australian for-purpose sector’s needs including data from sector workforce studies and testing ideas and frameworks with CEOs across the sector
- Commissioning further development of the framework, including further testing with the sector
- Tendering for a delivery partner
This commitment to research and evidence directly informed program design, notably the need for:
- Investment in the leadership development of CEOs and in broader organisational capacity building, including succession planning
- A program that enables peer learning and sharing but is flexible enough for individual needs to be met
- A program that develops leadership skills at the individual, organisation and systems levels
- Individual assessment and coaching to better target support needs
- A tailored three month sabbatical to provide time, space and opportunity to lift strategic thinking, reflect, learn and rejuvenate
Each year, a cohort of 24 CEOs will participate in SILA. The quality of the first two cohorts of sector CEOs from NSW and the ACT (2021) and Victoria and Tasmania (2022) is an early testament to the work that has occurred. With Nous Group confirmed as the independent evaluation partner for five years, the evidence of SILA’s outcomes will be systematically captured to improve and adapt the program and communicate its lessons and impact.
"Actually having funders say ‘this is valuable and a legitimate use of philanthropic funding’, is the start, it’s all of it, really. Because most of the reason we underinvest in ourselves…is because we are constantly bidding for money that is closely scrutinised, and generally defined by measurable activity, outputs and outcomes”
For-purpose CEO, from sector research to inform SILA program development, 2019