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Many of the leading players across Australian philanthropy are beginning to turn their attention from investing in charity to systems change and advocacy. These funders are increasingly interested in dismantling the systemic factors that disadvantage and discriminate against people, theorising that legislative and policy reform may in the long run remove the need for most funding guided by motivations of charity.

In Investing in Impact: A practical handbook for philanthropic investment in advocacy, former Executive Director of Australian Progress Nick Moraitis offers timely insights around how funders can best invest in advocacy and campaigns.

“We hope that this practical guide can help foster impactful funding of advocacy and systems change – but also fruitful discussion across the philanthropy community about what impact we hope to achieve in the coming years.” (page 73)

Nick has decades of experience in social change and created the report for Australian Progress working with private investment company Tipple, social impact agency Purpose and a variety of leading philanthropists and social change advocates.

A few top level takeaways include:

  • Give with your heart and head: Many philanthropists get into advocacy through an issue they care deeply about or which they have been personally affected by. This is ideally coupled with strategic considerations such as the political agenda, they broader systemic issues at stake, the number of people affected, and the chances for success.
  • Think intersectionally: The intersection points of social challenges are where the issues are most acute and also where there are the most fertile opportunities for change. Searching for areas where issues overlap can help philanthropists narrow their focus from a broad theme to an issue which can be effectively campaigned on.
  • Invest in systemic advocacy: Engaging in systemic advocacy is as important as systemic philanthropy. Both have a mission that is preventive in nature, focus on creating impact across a sector or multiple sectors, are capable of generating lasting impact when the project ends, and provide a building block for subsequent changes.
  • Support cross-movement collaboration: NGOs and advocacy organisations are often severely under-resourced when it comes to doing core work such as building new relationships, exchanging and sharing knowledge, and forming long-term partnerships. Providing core funding or untied funding can also allow organisations greater flexibility to invest in future capacity and adapt to emerging circumstances.

The full report is freely available online here.



Have you had experience either providing funding or receiving funding for advocacy? Has reading this piece provoked thoughts and ideas you would like to share? Or would you like to reflect with others on how to improve your work? Get in touch and share where you’re at.  

At its heart, Strengthening Australian Civil Society is an ongoing conversation, a meeting place for people and organisations to share ideas, find common purpose and generate new relationships for change.

Mark Riboldi

Mark Riboldi

Mark is a researcher at the Sydney Policy Lab, with a focus on collaborative policy development and the intersections between communities, governments and civil society.