National rapid-response research program to guide for-purpose sector through COVID-19

The Centre for Social Impact (CSI) today announced the launch of a national research program: Pulse of the For-Purpose Sector & Building Back Better.

This large, national program has multiple aims in the context of COVID-19:

  • It is rapid-response research to understand and support the short-term needs of the for-purpose sector, including charities, not-for-profit organisations, philanthropy, social enterprises and businesses
  • It will provide the evidence needed for the longer term, to help the sector retool for a more inclusive and sustainable future
  • It will provide the longitudinal data and research infrastructure for an ongoing Pulse of the For-Purpose-sector analysis. This is data that the sector has never had before

CSI CEO Professor Kristy Muir said: “COVID-19 and its aftermath is a new chapter in history. With this important work, CSI will help the for-purpose sector to understand what is changing over time and to build back better for Australian society, for generations to come.”

The unprecedented events created by COVID-19 are radically challenging Australia’s health, economic, and social systems, with significant implications for people most disadvantaged, and the organisations that serve them.

CSI has identified the need to take the pulse of the sector to uncover how it is faring in a range of areas such as financial, technological, human capital, adaptation, and of course, meeting its purpose.

CSI National Research Director Associate Professor Gemma Carey explained the impetus behind the program: “COVID-19 has shocked the world. Now is the time to understand the situation during COVID-19, the implications of it and to reimagine the future. CSI stands ready to be a key player in supporting immediate relief efforts and arming the organisations and communities we serve with the knowledge and resources needed for a better, brighter future post-COVID-19.

“This will be the first time we’ve had a national longitudinal consistent dataset for the for-purpose sector that will enable us to achieve this.”

The research program will undertake twice-yearly Pulse of the For-Purpose sector surveys with dynamic reporting and dissemination and will undertake tailored deep dives on particular sub-sectors and issues where CSI has strong capability, such as homelessness, aged care, disadvantage and the disability sector, as well as organisational responses from sub-sectors, such as philanthropy and social enterprise.

A key part of this work requires leveraging funding into the future, but importantly, the investment from CSI’s corpus enables CSI to kick this work off quickly.

Professor Muir continued, “We have the right team to do this important project in partnership with the for-purpose sector. CSI holds a trusted space, balances transdisciplinary expertise with academic rigour and collaborates effectively across sectors.

“We already have support from organisations like the Community Council for Australia, Philanthropy Australia, Our Community, Infoxchange, Pro Bono Australia, and more. We know there is enormous appetite for this project, and we are looking forward to working with others to deliver it."