Featured in the September issue of SVA Quarterly, Caroline and Seri were interviewed about ten20 Foundation’s journey. ten20 shared our story and lessons learned. Here are extracts from the article.

Since transforming from service delivery organisation to catalytic funder, ten20 Foundation has been on a steep learning curve. ten20 shares its story and what its learnt about funding collective impact initiatives to bring about systems change.

Article Summary:

  • ten20 Foundation describes its journey to become a catalytic funder of early childhood collective impact projects to bring about systems change.
  • The national initiative, Opportunity Child coordinates learning and change amongst the six participating partner communities and has developed a shared goal to align partners and communities around results.
  • ten20 Foundation funds qualifying partner communities to build capacity and also to quickly address unexpected obstacles
  • Learnings from the journey include: that affecting systems change is hard because it involves behaviour and organisational change; the importance of listening to the community; and how to leverage other funds and build local ownership and sustainability.


Lessons about being a catalytic funder:

1. Changing the conversation is hard work

“To change the way the system works, you need to change practices and mindsets at every level, individual, organisational, in the local community, and policy and government “

2. Listening to community

Renkin reflects, “We failed to appropriately listen and understand where that community was at; as funders we let that community and ourselves down. We’re grateful to them for respecting our learning ground and being the guinea pig. It was a critical experience for us.”

3. Building local ownership and sustainability

“We realised that we can catalyse backbone infrastructure, but it’s important for us to exit and let local people and organisations – the local stakeholders – step in and lead their change”

4. Leveraging the investment

“A good example is Logan Together, the Queensland urban community where we leveraged our seed funding at a ratio of 1:20 which really gave them the platform they needed,”… ten20 committed $100,000 per annum for five years. This led to a significant commitment from the Queensland and Federal Governments, as well as other philanthropists such as the Dusseldorp Forum.

5. The capacity building required is the same no matter the social issue

“We are all asking the same strategic question, whether we’re working in early childhood or juvenile justice. How can we scale up the new funding models that are critical to enable others to engage?”

6. The role of philanthropy in terms of influence and advocacy

“This underscores our interest in finding places or spaces where we can work with others in the system,” explains Chernov. “One funder alone is not going to get the systems change needed so it’s really important that we work nationally and locally with the other voices around this.”


What’s next for ten20?

“We continue to fund and support conditions for local collective impact work, and in addition, are placing increasing emphasis on partnering with other funders for knowledge capture and systems shift around funding conditions,” says Chernov.

Renkin affirms, our greatest learning is that catalytic philanthropy must continue to play a role in seeding the conditions and capacity for early childhood systems change. “So, we continue to support Opportunity Child and remain focused on addressing the broader funding barriers that prohibit, rather than advance, these emerging community initiatives in Australia.”


>>> Read the full story and listen to a podcast of the interview on SVA Quarterly