Program Related Investments – innovative solutions for scaling social enterprise

We are always interested to hear about new and innovative ways for philanthropists to engage with social enterprise and other for purpose organisations and initiatives.  Program Related Investments present a great opportunity for effective partnership, leveraging more impact from the philanthropic dollar –  Download the research report on how Program Related Investments could operate in Australia.

“PRIs are investments made by foundations in support of charitable purposes, with the explicit understanding that those investments will earn below-market returns, adjusted for risk and mission … (GrantCraft, ‘Program-Related Investing: skills and strategies for new PRI funders’, 2006, p2)Program Related Investments

The research was commissioned by the Department of Social Services on behalf of the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership and undertaken by Philanthropy Australia. 

The project:

  • researches and reports on how PRIs operate in the United States and provides evidence of the potential for PRIs to increase the effectiveness of philanthropic giving;
  • identifies options for how a similar model might operate in Australia, including providing worked examples of PRI models that are likely to suit Australia’s needs/ the Australian context; and
  • analyses the outcomes of the consultation process and recommends a model suitable for implementation in Australia.

Social Atlas announces B Corp™ certification

Social Atlas is excited to officially be part of the Business for Good movement, having recently become a Certified B Corporation.

Joining a community of over 1,600 Certified B Corporations; 120 industries in nearly 50 countries with 1 unifying goal – to redefine success in business.

What is a B Corp?

B Corporations® or B Corps™ are for profit companies who are certified by the independent B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social, environmental performance, accountability and transparency and aspire to use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

It is about acknowledging that we can use the power of business to create positive impact on the world and generate a shared prosperity for everyone not just shareholders.

By going through the certification process B Corp™ practices are reviewed with a detailed “for purpose” lens. The process is rigorous, independently audited and reconfirmed to ensure the high standards are being met.

In Australia we join B Corps™ such as Tom Organic, Whole Kids, Who Gives a Crap® and many more. Check out our profile and search for other B Corps here.

Here is our thoughts on how Social Atlas sees the B Corp in the context of our story so far.

Social Atlas – B Corp™ certification another milestone in our journey

It’s hard to believe it’s been over a year since Michelle and I first met and decided to launch Social Atlas. So much has happened since then its hard to know where to begin so we decided to begin with today. Today we announced our certification as a B Corp™. You can read all about B Corporations and their role in the global movement of people using business as a force for good™ on the B Corp™ website. Importantly for Social Atlas you will see that it was nearly one year ago today that I posted the first of our Interesting Things and it was all about the value of the B Corp movement.

It is no coincidence that right now, as we celebrate our first anniversary we are able to make this announcement. It is reflective of the journey Michelle and I have been on, and of the place Social Atlas holds in the evolving landscape.

When we first met, Michelle and I shared a vision for unlocking the power of effective collaboration across sectors and for using the potential of the market to bring about positive social impact. We had a theory of change. We knew that if we could help all players in the market communicate effectively and develop effective partnerships where social impact was an explicitly acknowledged goal, we could deliver real social impact. Our approach is to get to know good organisations really well, to embed ourselves and be the extra set of hands needed to focus on strategy, shared value, purpose and organisational effectiveness. From there we build and broker relationships with other organisations, whether they are in the same sector or another sector. The same approach applies to corporate, government and for purpose organisations (we don’t call them not for profit anymore but more on that later….). And the results are speaking for themselves.

For Michelle and I, this milestone is important as we can see that our vision is becoming a reality. In the current landscape where the spectrum of organisations is being blurred, we have had the privilege of working with amazing examples across this spectrum. For Purpose Organisations like First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN) evolving to adapt to the new order, looking at income generation, improved efficiency and effectiveness of impact. And organisations like Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership CGEP, a new breed of social enterprise using the market to tackle global poverty at scale.

These new approaches are seeing a growth in hybrid organisations.

Not for profits moving towards income generation, growth in enterprises with a social mission and corporations adding a social lens to their everyday strategic process. As we help organisations understand and navigate this new landscape, B Corp Certification just feels right for Social Atlas and is a way of letting the world know that we live and breath the practices that we work on with our clients.

Additionally, being a part of the first Australian Shared Value Consulting Affiliate training program, I learnt more about how Social Atlas can deliver the benefits of collaborations as our corporate clients look to execute against their own purpose visions.

While we know that the market is not the solution to every one of societies problems and challenges, at Social Atlas we are excited by the opportunity to unlock the resources of the market for the benefit of society wherever we can. We are excited to see what our next year has in store. Watch this space…


Shared Value Forum 2016 – CGEP Case Study available now

Congratulations to the Shared Value Project team for a great Shared Value Forum last month in Melbourne. The second Forum that Social Atlas has attended and, like the shared value conversation generally, the Forum has grown and the conversation is continuing to build momentum.

Those who were able to attend the Forum 2016 will already be familiar with the story shared by James, COO with Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership. Alleviation of poverty at scale is a lofty goal but one that Social Atlas believes this social business is well on the way to achieving. Read the Shared Value case study here or click here to find out more about CGEP and our work with them.


B Corp™ – making purpose part of a companies DNA

Imagine if the interdependencies between corporations, community and society at large could be recognised at law. Imagine if we could redefine what success looks like for a company and allow owners, shareholders and directors to work together to achieve that success.

That is the aim and intention of the B Corp movement. In Australia, as well as providing a framework for organisations to model and assess the social health of their organisations, B Corp Australia are working toward having the concept of a benefit corporation recognised at law. While Australia has the ability to incorporate for purpose, a change of law is required to ensure that purpose can be embedded into the DNA of for profit companies.

We all know that the market has changed and consumers and employees are demanding companies be clear on their purpose and remain committed to delivering that purpose. Without legal changes to allow a director to consider this purpose when making decisions about the future and to put shareholders and investors on notice about the broader focus of the company, there is always a risk that maximising profit will take precedence without proper regard to purpose and that this decision will be justified on the basis of delivering financial value. Lynette and Michele at Social Atlas believe it is possible to deliver financial value by making decisions that further a companies purpose and the move to recognise this at law is exciting.

Until then we will continue to support those initiatives that are already making purpose a part of how good business does business well – the B Corp Accreditation process and the growth and creation of shared value.

Click here to read about the push for legal status in Australia.

To find out more about B Corp Australia visit their website here or contact us.

Creating Shared Value – a model working for farmers, corporations and society

Social Atlas client Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnerships CGEP, provides a practical example of how shared value initiatives can deliver powerful positive outcomes for farmers, corporations and society.

Lynette and the rest of the Social Atlas team have had the pleasure of working closely with Mark Gunton, CEO of CGEP as they expand their approach into Asia.  This interview with Mark is a gGood Magazinereat way to understand more of what they are working on.  In it Mark notes that the CGEP approach ensures that infrastructure is created and the skills, growth and opportunities are long term and scalable.  The benefits that flow to farmers as well as the corporations who require certainty and quality in their key ingredients purchased within this system need to be sustainable and reliable. “There are massive opportunities for social impact in gaps in the local economy. We fill these gaps by launching our own enterprises that bring thousands of small farmers and entrepreneurs into high-value markets. We do this in a way that is sustainable and self-scaling. All profits are recycled to grow an enterprise or create new ones.”

As you read about what CGEP are achieving in the context of Root Capital’s Issue Brief – Investing in Resilience: A Shared Value Approach to Agricultural Extension,  you can see why Mark Kramer is excited about the opportunity in this area.  Read the Brief here.

For more information on the CGEP approach or its expansion into Asia please contact us.

Key Trends and best practice in philanthropy

amp-sva-keytrends (dragged)Social Atlas is happy to share the report released today which provides a perspective on the key trends and best practice in philanthropy in Australia.  Lynette Ryan from Social Atlas notes the report’s comments on global trends in philanthropy. Moving towards more strategic funding partnerships, a willingness to back start ups and focus on venture philanthropy.   With a call for increased transparency and collaboration to occur between philanthropists, there is great opportunity in  Australia. And while there are challenges which could hold philanthropic funders back from fully engaging with these opportunities, there is great enthusiasm and energy in the market for new and strategic ways to approach these issues.  Lynette was really interested in one particular comment at the launch – we are not looking for philanthropists to replace Government funding, just de-risk it.  The discussion and the report note the value in better engaging with effective organisations that are having an impact and in building long term shared value and strategic partnerships.

Read the report here

Field Guide to Impact Investing

1. Field Guide download (dragged)Impact Investing can be a complex topic for even the most experienced Foundations and Charitable Trusts.  At Social Atlas we believe that impact investing has an important role to play in a diverse and strategic investment strategy and giving strategy.  It is not the answer to all social issues, nor should it be the sole focus for Foundations and Trusts, but a good understanding of the opportunities will allow these organisations to deliver even more effective total impact from their funds.  Thanks to the Social Impact Hub for this practical guide to Impact Investing.  Targeted at Impact Investing for Australian Charitable Trusts and Foundations, you will find this to be a valuable resource on your Impact Investing journey.  How each individual organisation will respond to the growing move towards more strategic and impact investment will vary depending on the organisations purpose, focus and many other factors.  This resource can be used at multiple points along the impact investment journey – whether its understanding just what is meant by Impact Investing; Making a case for Impact Investing to your Organisation or designing and implementing an investment strategy which incorporates Impact.

Download the guide here

What Business Needs to Know About Sustainable Development Goals

nov15-20-dave-wheeler-sustainability-850x478Answering the question “why should business care” about the Sustainable Development Goals – Bhaskar Chakravorti notes 3 main reasons: Firstly – significant opportunity in emerging markets; Secondly – competitive pressure to be part of the solution and Thirdly – the goals can’t be realised without business participation.   We see this as a statement of the opportunity for Shared Value and and call to action for businesses to engage.  As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon states “I’m counting on the private sector. Now is the time to mobilize the global business community as never before. The case is clear. Realizing the Sustainable Development Goals will improve the environment for doing business and building markets.”  Read the Article here and the Research referred to in the article.

Social Impact Investing – trends, opportunities and risks

We found this presentation by John Prendergast on Social Impact Investing, to be a great summary of the current landscape.  Presenting as part of a Philanthropy NZ seminar, John shares his insights from a tour of UK. While his observations are aimed at the NZ market, they apply more widely – he notes at the embryonic nature of Social Impact Investment; the need to acknowledge that not everything is suitable for impact investment and the need for the growth in investible social enterprises.  Although there are challenges, it leaves you with a sense of optimism and excitement about the role social impact investing can play as part of a wider response. Watch the presentation here: photo

The Difference Magazine – An annual report card on the indicators of poverty and exclusion in Australia

A valuable resource for corporate giving programs, high net worth individuals and community, recognising the value of good information in bringing about real change.