Outcomes funding, Homelessness, policy, Social Impact Bonds, Social Impact Investments
Victoria's first social impact bond: Journey to Social Inclusion
Sacred Heart Mission successfully negotiated Victoria’s first Social Impact Investment (outcomes-based contract) and Latitude Network supported them each step of the way.
SHM began life with the opening of the parish doors in Grey Street, St Kilda, to host meals for locals experiencing homelessness.
Nearly 40 years on and SHM is now a leader in providing intensive support for people right across the homelessness spectrum using engagement services (meals and welcoming physical spaces) and individualised service support as well as providing accommodation and support.
SHM’s program, Journey to Social Inclusion (J2SI), was born in the late-2000s out of the organisation’s concern that ‘business as usual’ was not allowing them to do the job they wanted to do - end homelessness for some of Melbourne’s most vulnerable people. As a result of the inherent silos in the social and health service systems, SHM decided to invest in building an evidence-based, outcomes-focused program for clients linking a ‘rapid-housing’ response with targeted help over the long-term (three years) - something the current service system found almost impossible to do.
After raising funds to run J2SI as a pilot as well as an expanded phase 2, SHM’s challenge was to continue to attract funding to both keep the program going but also to grow the program so that SHM could reach more of those it knew needed more targeted support.
In late 2016 the Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance issued a ‘Request for Proposal’ for its Social Impact Bond (SIB) Pilot Program. SHM saw this as an opportunity to both continue the growth and reach of J2SI while also testing an ‘outcomes-based funding’ approach for J2SI.
But this was going to be a competitive tender with perhaps up to 20 organisations interested in applying. How do we make SHM’s J2SI program stand out and then, if successful, negotiate something that had no precedent in Victoria?
THE ROLE LATITUDE NETWORK PLAYED / THE OUTCOME
Latitude Network acted as a specialist advisor, project manager and negotiator through both the tender application and contract negotiation stages. Russ Wood helped coordinate the existing expertise, talent and energy within SHM and the J2SI program, translating that into a negotiating approach that would help meet the Government’s outcomes, policy and financial agenda while also getting SHM the best outcome.
It was intense work - fortnightly negotiation meetings with Government (led by Treasury officials) meant weekly SHM team meetings to review the meeting agenda and do the work to prepare to negotiate and, importantly, problem-solve the many challenges.
Latitude Network not only helped keep the process on track - but also provided timely advice on the political and policy environment as well as the emerging outcomes-based funding environment.
THE TRANSFORMATION / IMPACT
J2SI became Victoria’s first ever SIB to be agreed when Victoria's Minister for Housing signed the contract with SHM in December 2017.
As a result of this, SHM is now able to provide intensive, tailored support over three years to 180 individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. Keep in touch to hear further updates as the project progresses.
Outcomes framework, collective impact, local government, social impact
Australian first: $50m+ outcomes-based health & wellness hub in Brimbank, Melbourne
The municipality of Brimbank sits in Melbourne’s rapidly-growing west. It’s new health and wellness hub is located in St Albans, a suburb which has experienced deep social and health inequities for several decades.
St Albans sits at the heart of the disadvantage that runs through the region and, in Keilor Downs on the border of St Albans is the suburb’s leisure centre (SALC). While the SALC had a loyal band of users it was well-beyond its useful life with growing maintenance costs adding to the challenges of running a tired community facility in a way that generates great community outcomes.
Council wanted to go beyond a redevelopment and create a centre of regional leadership. The aim is not just to create a world-class facility (with pool, gym, community spaces) but also to ensure the infrastructure investment addresses some of the deep social and health challenges faced by people in the area.
But how can a building do this? Typically, an infrastructure project focuses on risk, speed and staying within budget. Time is money. Often the thinking about services, impacts and site usage are delayed until after the concrete is poured.
But Council wanted to make sure the development actually addressed some of the social and health inequities in the region as well as being an example of great community built-form.
THE ROLE LATITUDE NETWORK PLAYED / THE OUTCOME
Latitude Network designed and built an ‘Outcomes-Based Infrastructure’ process for Council that put a set of health and social outcomes at the heart of the development. This involved analysing social needs and patterns in the community, governance design, outcomes framework, collaboration and management structure and service design.
The process brought together the ‘community’ vision of the site with the ‘physical’ vision for the site to make sure that the investment worked harder to achieve targeted community outcomes.
In addition to helping guide the physical infrastructure decisions as part of the Project Control Group, Latitude Network advised Council on a tenancy tender process that attracted the right social service providers to join the projects as long-term tenants. The tenancy agreements even include provisions around setting and achieving outcomes - a first for a project of this type.
THE TRANSFORMATION / IMPACT
The project has proven that the money that governments and communities spend on infrastructure can be leveraged for higher social impact without delaying the build. Infrastructure dollars can create great spaces but also be accountable for positive changes in people’s lives.
More than simply a ‘hub’, the embedding of social and health outcomes into the infrastructure process has meant that alongside new world-class facilities there are also key tenants at the site who are coming together with a program logic to address long-running social and health challenges.
The development has also spawned a ‘collective impact’ project to build community momentum around addressing local social issues using the Hub. It has been set up as the ‘Impact Brimbank’ initiative with a diverse group of community members, and is building support in advance of the opening of the Hub.
Brimbank City Council is looking for a new name for its sport, leisure, community and health facility in St Albans.
But this is no ordinary facility. It is Australia's first 'Outcomes-Based Infrastructure' (OBI) project that aims to not only provide people in the region a wonderful health and fitness experience, but also to make a measurable impact on social and health inequalities.
Latitude Network was proud to have taken Brimbank through the OBI process - we worked with executives right across Council to use the massive investment planned for this facility as a lever to improve specific identified health and social inequalities. The result is a facility that will house tenants collaborating to address outcome gaps for specific cohorts of people. Together with Council, these organisations are building a 'system logic' that locks the providers in together - even setting up a measurement and performance framework between them so there is accountability built in to everyone's performance and tenancy.
Brimbank Mayor, Cr Georgina Papafotiou said "Our unique health and wellbeing hub will offer a state-of-the-art aquatic and leisure centre, as well as a range of preventative health, education and social services delivered by co-located tenant partners CommUnity Plus Services Ltd and Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand under the one roof. This is what will set our hub apart from others, making it an ‘Australian-first".
It's very exciting and a process which we have been using in other locations such as Logan, Queensland and Dandenong in Victoria. In its recent report, Infrastructure Australia has focused on the lack of accountability for outcomes that is inherent in the current community, social and sporting infrastructure sectors - you can read their excellent work here (Infrastructure Australia Social Audit).
The OBI process helps address that by ensuring major buildings (especially community infrastructure) are clear about the social and health improvements they aim to make, and have an accountable framework and process to ensure outcomes are not lost and forgotten, but central. Tenants and services are then better designed to meet needs, with higher levels of collaboration between tenants and community members, and they therefore make a lasting social impact which is measured.
Local Councils in particular should be adopting an OBI approach for new community infrastructure such as -
Get in touch to find out more, or read the Case study here.
This article was originally published in Pro Bono News on 4 May 2020.
In the social sector today, there is an understandable rush to manage immediate operations, protect staff, and review face-to-face service delivery. It’s a complex time and it is difficult to see beyond the next week or two. However, senior managers need to start thinking about the phases of adjustment to the COVID-19 crisis across time:
There are a number of significant forces at work:
Increased use of technology – In phase two, social distancing will continue to test the sector’s ability to deliver services in the traditional face-to-face mode. Back office functions will need to simplify but it is also a time to experiment with what parts of the service model can be delivered via technology and what parts require face-to-face interaction.
What does this mean for social organisation strategy? While most organisations have rightfully been focused on phase one adjustment, some of our clients are now entering phase two stabilisation period. We think it is now time to plan for “living with constraints” and for phase three, the “leverage the upswing” phase after social restrictions begin to ease. One way to think about it is that operational management should be focused on phase one, while CEOs and boards need to be planning for phases two and three.
While it is incredibly disruptive, Latitude Network believes that the current upheaval also provides an opportunity for social organisations to accelerate the innovations and performance improvements needed over the next few years. This is exactly what is happening now in manufacturing around the world – technology improvements that might have taken five years are being implemented in one year.
The high-performing social organisation
What does a high-performing social organisation look like? We will need social organisations that use data for evidence-based decision making and continual improvement, leverage technology, have a laser focus on their social impact and outcomes, and develop a “flexible playbook” of opportunities and programs that enable adaptability to changing needs and funding environments. An organisation that can evidence performance to government and other funders, and can also make a convincing case for the economic savings arising from their work.
The daily charting of COVID-19 cases and the entry of epidemiological models into the mainstream discourse have demonstrated how vital good data is at times of uncertainty. Social organisations need live, relevant data that enables them to pinpoint barriers to achieving impact, to identify service approaches that work best for specific cohorts and sub-cohorts and help allocate resources to where the organisation can have the best impact.
Social sector boards are tasked with ensuring organisations maximise their impact. They therefore need to be asking these questions to help with this transition:
As our way to contribute to social organisations in this time of uncertainty, Latitude Network is offering free “Sounding Board” online workshops for the boards and executives of five social sector organisations exploring the questions outlined above. If you are interested please contact us at email@example.com to book your workshop. We will provide a pre-reading document and a summary of recommendations after the workshop.
This article was originally published in Pro Bono News.
Latitude Network recently took some clients with us on an ‘outcomes tour’ of the US to learn from organisations, funders and governments that are shifting to outcomes-based funding. This includes what the US calls “Pay For Success” projects, and we call Social Impact Bonds, as well as newer forms of outcomes contracting where a range of financial and non-financial incentives are provided for performance. Outcomes-based contracting is when a commissioner of services (usually a government but can include large philanthropy) agrees to fund a social service program where at least some of the funding is contingent upon the organisation achieving a target performance on clear, agreed outcomes metrics for service users.
Key lessons learned -
1) A shift to outcomes funding, while difficult, is a must
Our observation in Australia and in the US is that most people who work in the social sector (including government) want the work they do to lead to improvements in people’s lives. There is generally a strong desire in organisations - from the frontline to the Board - to work towards outcomes. The difficulty is that merely measuring outcomes or drawing up an outcomes framework, while necessary, is often far from sufficient to change behaviours and performance. Funding on the basis of inputs or outputs is a very blunt instrument with very low levels of data or feedback on what is working for long term, relevant outcomes.
Funding on the basis of outcomes, however, can provide the joint incentive to properly define, measure, track and deliver outcomes that matter to the service user. A range of different outcomes have been contracted, from reduction in recidivism, to early childhood development milestones to family reunification. Despite their challenges, everyone we met - from local and state governments such as Ventura County or LA County Department of Mental Health, to impact funders such as Maycomb Capital and First5 LA and service providers such as the Center for Employment Opportunities and Interface - everyone was focused on making the shift to outcomes-based funding.
2) Social Impact Bonds have been a useful tool to kick start the outcomes revolution, but will be only one of many tools for the next era in outcomes funding.
Our discussions with Emily Gustafsson-Wright and Izzy Bogild-Jones at the Brookings Institution highlighted how Social Impact Bonds have had powerful impacts on social sector performance, innovation and flexibility in service delivery, but there is little evidence that they bring a net additional amount of private sector funding into the social sector. This aligns with Latitude Network’s view that outcomes funding is best used to drive alignment of interests and flexibility for innovation between government, social sector and philanthropy, and should not be seen primarily as a tool for increasing private funding of social services.
3) Organisations that build outcomes-funded projects are transformed for the better - especially in managerial focus and performance capability.
All the organisations we spoke to had used the experience of an outcomes contract to drive important changes in capability and process within their organisations. One organisation, Center for Employment Opportunities (or CEO) in New York City, has built a sophisticated outcomes and performance management system that gives visibility to everyone, from the frontline to the Board, on how the organisation is tracking in delivering its mission. The organisation has a strong, singular focus on a cohort of high risk offenders leaving prison. It’s focus allows for a robust program logic and service methodology and it uses detailed performance reporting to achieve employment goals and reduce recidivism. Their data has helped them identify the most effective early responses (e.g. ensuring a client starts a job on the day they turn up), and helps frontline workers adjust their activities by getting regular, timely feedback and learning from high performers. CEO’s outcomes contracts with governments have helped provide the incentives to focus on outcomes.
4) A new ‘Outcomes Partnership’ approach between Government and providers can lead to better achievement of outcomes
Forward-thinking governments are entering into what we are calling ‘Outcomes Partnerships’ with social organisations to work together over time on defining and aligning around key outcomes that matter to services users. These partnerships allow for better targeted procurement procedures from government, adding additional incentives into contracts for achieving short and longer term outcomes, and ensuring transparency of data sharing that can shed light on areas of highest and lowest performance. They also provide a much higher degree of flexibility to both Government and service providers through ‘active contract management’ methods that allow for adjustment of performance goals as theory hits reality.
These partnerships are a part of the journey of various governments in the US to shift large parts of their funding base to be procured on the basis of outcomes rather than inputs or outputs.
Our visit to the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance in Boston revealed a forward-thinking government department that is leading the internal systems and behaviour change required to procure on the basis of outcomes, increase quality and sharing of data and establish trust between government employees and leaders and the social organisations they fund.
Latitude Network and our clients see Outcomes Partnerships as the next important step for the social sector in Australia.
This week's announcement by the Victorian Government of the $100 million Community Infrastructure Loans Scheme, will provide councils with access to low interest rate loans of between $500,000 and $10 million. The loans will apply to community centres and hubs, cultural facilities, public libraries, kindergartens and early learning facilities, heritage building restorations for community use and public spaces like parks, reserves and trails.
The funding will be very competitive and so it will be important to demonstrate how your proposal will not only provide functional benefit to the community but will also deliver real, long-term community outcomes as well.
We call it Outcomes-Based Infrastructure and it is a process that sets up social infrastructure projects so they can make a measurable difference to people's lives, particularly where pockets of disadvantage exist. Brimbank City Council is leading the way with their 'Brimbank Hub' development, which will bring together a world-class leisure centre with a rigorous approach to addressing real social and health inequalities.
Let us know if you would like to talk about how your application for infrastructure funding could become an outcomes-based community infrastructure proposal.
Link to the Premier's announcement
Guidelines for a previous, similar, program