Innovation Index

Organisational agility a key to innovation in the Not-for-Profit Sector

A new study aimed at pinpointing the innovation capability of the Australian not-for-profit Sector reveals that nimble, market-responsive charity organisations are best-placed to capture community interest and support.

The 2015 Innovation Index - The Australian Not-for-Profit Sector (3.48mb), commissioned by Australia Post and digital giving provider, GiveEasy, was generated from a survey of more than 700 professionals working in the sector.

The peer-based survey revealed an overall Innovation Index of 66% for the sector, showing that there is substantial scope for improvement when it comes to innovation, while unpacking a number of factors that drive, and hinder, innovative practice.

Movember, Oxfam and Charity Water were identified as the top three 'most innovative' not-for-profit organisations in Australia according to the peer-based ranking in the survey.

Innovative organisations have a willingness to move quickly to transform new ideas into actions says Australian Centre for Social Innovation's Chairman, Nicholas Gruen, who was guest speaker at the launch of the 2015 Innovation Index.

"Just as innovation requires special skills and the preparedness to take risks in the business sector, the same applies for not-for-profit organisations. There's plenty to be done to ensure that it isn't just businesses that strive every day to work smarter rather than harder. I salute the not-for-profits that this Index shows are leaders in the innovation journey," he said.

The survey found that among the attributes considered 'innovative' by people working in the sector, the capacity to respond quickly, embrace new technologies and connect with audiences is highly valued. However only 50 per cent of not-for-profit organisations were believed to be capable of continually achieving these outcomes according to survey respondents.

The study also showed that certain organisations were more likely to be innovative. They include:

  • small-to-midsized not-for-profits (employing between 11-100 staff)
  • organisations with a clearly defined Innovation Policy that all employees know about
  • those that financially reward innovation as part of their culture
  • organisations that are actively engaged with social media
  • organisations that develop more than half their innovations from outside the organisation.

Greg Sutherland, Executive General Manager Marketing & Customer Experience from Australia Post said the 2015 Innovation Index focuses on a topic which resonates with his organisation.

"Keeping pace with and, where possible, leading change through innovation is an important focus for Australia Post, and one of the organisation's biggest challenges.

"Throughout the 200 years that Australia Post has served the community, needs have continually changed. In today's digital environment, innovation is a critical ingredient in determining future direction to ensure Post continues to evolve, anticipate and meet the needs of our customers.

"Sharing our thinking on innovation and supporting other organisations to be more innovative is part of Australia Post's community commitment," Mr Sutherland said.

The seven 'innovative' capabilities measured by the report are: internal collaboration; external collaboration; explicit focus on innovation; openness of culture and vision; organisational velocity; rewards and recognition for innovation; and stakeholder centricity.

Dr Jeffrey Tobias, Director of GiveEasy, said the inaugural Innovation Index offers not-for-profit organisations useful insights into the scope for innovation in their sector.

"The not-for-profit sector in Australia employs well over one million people.

"The emergence of new digital technologies and social media, a trend away from 'donating' and towards experiential giving and the emergence of disruptive fundraising campaigns are three of the most influential factors that need to be considered.

"The information gathered through the Index provides a baseline against which improvements in innovative capabilities can be tracked annually. As organisations increasingly embrace innovation we expect to see trends change," he said.

Download full report (3.48mb)

Download Innovation Index infographic (112kb)