t1Seri Renkin, Managing Director of the ten20 Foundation, reflects on the major themes from the recent Leadership 2016 summit in Canberra and the Asia Pacific Venture Philanthropy Network conference in Hong Kong.

In early June this year, I attended the Leadership 2016 summit in Canberra with 200 leaders from a range of civil society and non-profit organisations. The shared message from this gathering, held just before our federal election, could not have been clearer: all who attended are absolutely committed to building an innovative, inclusive, sustainable and resilient Australian society.

So much of what we have accepted as “the way things are done” needs to be re-imagined and adapted for a very different world. However, the vision, sacrifice and risk that it takes to initiate and drive change of this order is impossible for one individual leader or party to hold accountability for, or represent.

The challenge we all face now is to move beyond this resolve to find new ways of working together, across communities, sectors, political ideologies and systems. Working independently – or worse, in silos – won’t drive the kind of results we all want for Australia.

How do our public and private institutions align their efforts to an overarching bi-partisan national agenda?  What organising structures can drive short-term reactive and long-term systemic strategies at the same time? Do our public policy experts have the reputation, independence and legitimacy to support collective advocacy around issues that matter for future generations of Australians?

Like many Australians, ten20 aspires to a new social contract that moves beyond historical political ideology and fear and provides a shared framework for our nation to achieve its future potential. In Australia there is no shortage of resources and goodwill, but time is of the essence. New leadership is urgently required from all parts of our society.

Asian region poised for change

Many of the themes from the Leadership 2016 summit were echoed at the Asia Pacific Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN) conference in Hong Kong at the end of May. Speaking on a multi-sector panel about how funders can support communities to drive systems change, I was struck by how much we can share and learn alongside our Asian neighbours.

The Asian region is struggling with some of the most challenging and complex development issues in the world, yet there was a tangible sense among conference goers and presenters that there are also significant opportunities there. Various presentations focused on new forms of governance, multi sector collaboration, community development, community-centred design, entrepreneurship, digital disruption and policy and systems change.

There was growing recognition, too, that change makers in Asia need to move further up the food chain to better understand and transform public policy and the dysfunctional systems they work in. This recognition was balanced with discussions and presentations that explored how business disruption strategies could create new markets, offering fresh solutions to the region’s complex social, environmental and economic problems.

ten20 – driving collective innovation

At the ten20 Foundation, we identify strongly with this need for fresh solutions to complex problems. We advocate for new thinking, different answers and a more efficient use of resources to create opportunities for everyone in our community. We can see that community leaders and organisations around Australia are increasingly wrestling with questions about how to address the underlying conditions in our society to enable change to occur – and for communities themselves to work together to change our society.

We believe new forms of funding are key to catalysing, convening and supporting the learning networks, knowledge creation and changes in practice and mindset required for real transformation to happen. The approach we are taking is unique because we are resourcing the infrastructure required for ‘collective impact’, led by communities, to drive local and national innovation together. At ten20, we recognise that people-centred approaches are the key to addressing complex problems and place-based disadvantage.

Seri Renkin
Managing Director, ten20 Foundation

There’s nothing like a visiting international guest to get our sector talking and reflecting. This week we have been talking and thinking about evaluation, as Mark Cabaj from Canada has been in town igniting some fantastic discussion and debate.

Mark is President of the consulting company From Here to There and is an Associate of Tamarack – An Institute for Community Engagement.

Mark has had an amazing career, from experiencing first-hand the end of communism in Europe and working as an Investment Advisor in Poland’s Foreign Investment Agency, the Foreign Assistance Coordinator for Grants in the Ministry of Privatisation, and the Mission Coordinator for the creation of the United Nations Development Program’s first regional economic development initiative in Eastern Europe.

Read more “The role of the funder in evaluation”

The ten20 Foundation was recently asked “what are the questions that guide your practice?”

Here are some from our list:

  1. What beliefs, values and theories underlie our philanthropic practice?
  2. What is the nature of our role and how do we negotiate our expectations with communities and partner organisations and respectfully establish boundaries on what we will and won’t do?
  3. How do we ensure fair, inclusive processes in our work with each other and with communities?
  4. How do we build capacity in ourselves to undertake the work and then assist communities in building that capacity?
  5. How can we best share our learnings with others?
  6. How do we develop a sense of responsibility and accountability to each other and to the shared agenda for change?

Read more “The importance of asking questions”

At ten20 we aim to do more than give, as a catalytic philanthropy foundation our work moves beyond giving money away to actively participating in solving the social problem of early childhood disadvantage.

We are not bystanders in the system, we are active participants and have a role to play in solving the problem. This means we need to build and nurture relationships. We aim to bring our whole selves to the work, not just dollars. This is a whole hearted approach. We know all quality relationships are built on trust and need to be earned not assumed.

Read more “Relationships and trust lessons”