Seri Renkin, Managing Director of the ten20 Foundation, on how our collaboration with key partners such as Rich Harwood of the Harwood Institute is designed to shift the focus of the Australian philanthropic sector towards large-scale, long-term systems change.

mainstreamAt ten20, we want to see collective impact investments and catalytic philanthropy move from the margins to the mainstream. It is new territory for many philanthropists in this country, but we aim to help guide the sector towards a new approach that we are certain will benefit investors, vulnerable children and society at large. In this aim, we find ourselves part of a unique global network of peers and pioneers who are advancing new approaches to affect large-scale change – it’s an emerging field, without a ready roadmap, because:

  • It moves from ‘giving away money’ to actually solving social problems;
  • It moves from giving, to focusing on the way you give;
  • It moves from just grant making, to becoming a catalyst for social change; and
  • It moves from top-down leadership to bottom-up leadership from communities themselves – treating them as partners and decision makers in the progress, rather than recipients of charity.

It’s early days, but the skills and tools we are investing in are valuable and highly transferable – including in ‘backbone’ leadership, which is today emerging as one of the most critical needs when it comes to driving new models of social change in communities. ten20 is learning there is deep expertise required to create the right conditions, the right ‘scaffolding’ and the right ecosystem for innovation, learning, funding and action.

ten20’s partnership with the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation in the US has helped us to progress our understanding of how to assess community rhythms, or the five stages of community life that all communities move through as they collaborate and effect systems change.  This framework comes out of nearly 30 years of research and on-the-ground work in communities by the Institute: the waiting place, impasse, catalytic, growth and sustain and renew.

ten20 has collaborated with the Institute to develop a Funder Roadmap – a guide for funders and their partners that seek to build stronger alignment, trust and impact in their work with communities. It’s based on the community rhythms framework and helps funders know which stage the particular community their working with is in right now.

Each stage has its own implications for the kinds of investments and support that will help a community move forward. For ten20 as a funder, this has been critical to shaping our support to communities seeking to undertake a collective impact approach.

We look forward to sharing this Funder Roadmap tool with you in the next few months – watch this space!

Seri Renkin
Managing Director, ten20 Foundation

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