The State of the Disability Sector Report 2015, released last December, found that 66 per cent of organisations agreed that policy reforms were “heading in the right direction” however 64 per cent were concerned about a lack of government collaboration.
Change is coming – it’s been coming for a few years but over the next couple of years there will be significant changes in the way that the government provides funding to its service providers and welfare recipients. The current government has been clear that they want to outsource as many welfare services as possible and make sure that services are universally accessible and affordable, and at as low delivery cost as possible to a federal budget that is already heavily in deficit.
Organisations providing services in disability, aged care and mental health need to be ready to move quickly, responding to the needs of the funding body as well as the beneficiary. Making sure your organisation is sustainable, nimble and able to filter through all the information released and make some quick decisions that fit with your organisational purpose is going to be the focus of the CEO and Board for the foreseeable future. It’s a case of survival of the fittest.
Here at Good Foundations we have been working with a selection of clients who are undertaking change at their organisation. Whether driven by the changes in government funding or through the need to show improved processes and practices to be competitive for private or community fundraising, they all have a few things in common. Ask yourself the following questions about your organisation – if you answer no to any of them it’s time to start thinking of how you can make that answer a yes.
- Are you clear on your organisational purpose, vision and direction? Do you know if it will be impacted by the current reforms?
- Is your business focused on retaining and attracting your customers and providing the services that they want?
- Do you have the right people, doing the right things, the right way?
- Have you built the best culture for your business that helps deliver the best services?
- Is your organisation operating as efficiently as it can and delivering sustainable, relevant services?
- Are you using technology as best you can?
- Do you have strong brand awareness and understand your competition and the market in which you operate?
- Do you successfully collaborate with other service providers or have a plan to further collaboration in their area with other organisations?
Very few organisations that we speak to have all the answers to these questions – many have not considered most of them as they focus on just getting the everyday business moving forward and ensuring they can help their clients as best they can. It takes a brave organisation to stop and spend some time considering the next steps – sometimes there have to be difficult decisions made. And the possibility of merger and collaboration is now a strong possibility for many smaller organisations.
There are a couple of considerations to focus on at the start – the first being, how adaptable is your business for change? Does your team understand what it will take to reform your business? If the answer is no then this is a great place to start. If you have the right team in place, who are willing to adapt to change and work with the processes that you need to set up then you are already halfway there. Being clear on your purpose and direction will mean that you can identify who the best people are – those that are aligned with the vision and mission and have the right skills to get you where you need to be.
You can do all this though and still not be operationally viable. That’s often a hard call to make – decisions will need to be made – and to make those calls you need to have as much information as possible. Should you change, collaborate or do you shut up shop? You may be a not-for-profit but you need to be sustainable. No organisation can run on a long-term deficit and not question whether it is delivering on its purpose and should be in existence.
Government reform will continue, and the best and only defence is to be fit for purpose and ready for change. You can read more about becoming reform ready here, and if you would like us to share some of our experiences in helping organisations through reform and change then please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0404 851 577/0423 023 264.