How PIPP is helping to improve the impact of philanthropy

PIPP is a cohort-based research and learning project at the University of Melbourne dedicated to improving the impact of philanthropy in Australia.

The Philanthropy: Towards a Better Practise Model report
showed that the impact of philanthropy in Australia could be significantly improved in a number of areas. The research found that while 78% of philanthropic
respondents agreed that understanding the strategic impacts of the projects that they supported was an important part of the grant-making deliberations,
only 22% of the actually had a social impact framework that allowed an assessment of the impact of their grant-making programmes. In other words, while
most grantmakers were happy to be seen to support impact, very few of them had frameworks and capacity in place to see if funding is having an effect
on the social problems targeted, or how that impact could be enhanced. This has led to funding being channelled ineffectively and areas critical for
enabling impact missing out.

PIPP’s plan

PIPP brings together ten organisations, who will work together with international experts in a series of nine workshops over three years. These workshops
will teach evidence-led adaptive approaches that encourage organisations put aside older approaches that no longer serve as their environments change.
Foundation effectiveness will be enhanced by:

  • improving strategic alignment of foundation activities
  • developing impact knowledge and capacity amongst foundation staff
  • improving impact measurement, management, and communication
  • embedding evidence-led practise.

PIPP will also enhance the quality of individual impact leadership within the grantmaking sector and create thought leaders by

  • developing impact leadership skills and the confidence to develop them in others
  • developing the skills to have both difficult and inspiring conversations with stakeholders about learning, change, and enhanced impact.

By effecting these changes, PIPP hopes to enhance the Australian philanthropic sector by

  • enhancing trust networks and collaboration between foundations
  • modelling learning and evidence-led practise in all parts of the sector
  • developing a cohort of collective impact leaders to act as changemakers within the sector
  • building an accessible and local evidence base around the philanthropic journey to become a learning organisation
  • improving knowledge transfer and best practise adoption.

Improving core impact skills

PIPP has identified three areas of core impact skills to focus improvement on:

Impact groundwork, which teases out what an organisation really cares about and wants to achieve. It cultivates critical and systems thinking,
building an awareness of urgency around issues, and improving stakeholder engagement

Operational excellence, which covers practical knowledge, like

  • allocation of capital,
  • impact strategy,
  • impact measurement and management,
  • impact communication and leadership, and
  • numeracy and information management.

Growing and creating deeper impact, which looks at creating business models for greater impact, governance, engagement and ongoing learning,
and sector leadership.

Alongside the work of the PIPP cohort, the research team will re-run the sector-wide survey underpinning The Philanthropy:Towards a Better Practise Model again this year and in 2021 to see how the entire sector is changing, giving us more insight into whether and how the PIPP cohort is improving relative to their peers.