The landscape for charities has been changing and significant events are likely to take place soon that will impact the sector forever. The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is firmly on the agenda and its implementation will open the not-for-profit sector up to market forces like never before.
For those of you who don’t know, NDIS is a plan to introduce a new way of ensuring Australians with a disability (there will be qualifications for this, but we are talking about 360 000 people) are given appropriate funding. Traditionally this funding has gone directly to not-for-profit service providers. Now people with a disability will have a choice of how and where they spend their funding.
Let me say upfront, I believe this is a fantastic idea and one all Australians should embrace. I encourage you to sign up for the campaign to make it known to the federal government that this must be introduced. As it stands today, a report is being finalised by the Productivity Commission after submissions from community groups and the general public. That report will recommend the introduction of an NDIS. It has already received support from state governments and is likely it will have bipartisan federal support.
There are implications for tax payers, because this scheme will require additional funding to what has been previously provided. Just how this will be funded is yet to be determined.
If people with a disability have money to spend, it changes everything. Few commercial entities would be in this sector at the moment simply because there is no money. Many people who have lived most or all their lives with a disability require extra support of some kind which costs time and money. They have not exactly been a cashed up group. Many have found it hard to find jobs because employers find it all too hard to take on people who ironically are often more capable than their existing staff. But now they will have cash…
Cash means commercial entities will want a piece of the pie. As well they might, if you can see a market which is injected with billions of dollars each year why not try to take your slice.
The problem for the long serving charities is they can’t compete. Traditionally they have poured all their money into providing a service with little left for building state of the art facilities let alone building a solid and viable brand that can compete in the market.
Charities have to act now to turn this around. They have to rebuild their branding foundation and their communications engaging all stakeholders so their place in the market is secure. They must build a sustainable future by pooling resources and designing a model that will allow them to compete.
In many cases the not-for-profit organisations will be the best service providers as they have been for years, but the big bright lights of new commercial entities with lots of advertising dollars to spend to lure people to their services will prove not just costly, but in some cases the end.
It’s time for charities to start recognising the fact that they should be working together, because if not they will be gobbled up in a world which is driven by comemrcial forces and at a time where financially the public do not have a lot of their own money to give to charity. Sustainability must be the key. We don’t want to lose these hard working services that are afterall the ones driving this revolutuion.
I end this blog with a pitch, because I believe CommTogether can help. I have the sector at heart and it is an area I know and am passionate about doing everything I can to help it not just survive by thrive.