The Art Of Social Impact: A Powerful Convergence

Jane Cotton Blog's picture
Jane Cotton

Social entrepreneurs are using creativity to create powerful change, and radical new platforms are enabling them to reach new audiences and diversify their funding streams, explains Lisa Cotton.

Australia has a rich and expansive history of organisations using arts and creativity to bring about powerful social change; from performance art celebrating artists with disabilities, and exhibitions fostering social cohesion for refugees, to art therapy helping kids overcome trauma, and much more. Using creativity for social change is transformative with the boundless limitations it brings.

But, consider this: the arts and social sectors that once relied on government grants and traditional fundraising strategies are now facing a vulnerable financial outlook with cuts to public funding and increased competition.

Let’s think about the role government once played in society, where the primary responsibility of solving social issues once fell solely in their lap. That has now completely changed.

What we’re now witnessing is businesses and individuals quickly realising the role they must play in helping bring more people at the margins to the centre. And, as a result, new public platforms have emerged to maximise the positive impact they’re having in the community.

The Funding Network (TFN) is the largest collective giving organisation in Australia.

It is a capacity building model for grassroots non-profits and social enterprises, that runs live crowdfunding events enabling people from all sectors of society and all walks of life to meaningfully connect with, and support non-profits at a grassroots level.

This live experience is far more powerful than simply undertaking a transaction online, and is fundamentally shifting the way we interact with charities. In just four years, TFN has facilitated over $5 million to over 135 grassroots non-profits, and further collaborations have connected businesses, individuals and non-profits through skilled volunteering and mentor matching programs. For arts and social change organisations, it means they can engage with donors in a collaborative and effective way, whilst diversifying their funding streams and reaching vast new audiences.

We’re experiencing a powerful convergence where the rise of grassroots non-profits is coming together with the rise of compassionate and engaged individuals. Capital, time and resources are being put to work to create a better outlook for Australia’s social sector.

This is just the beginning, but the reverberations are being felt across the sector. It’s something we hope will continue to shape organisations and expand our arts and social impact programs for years to come.

Lisa Cotton is an expert in Social Entrepreneurship, and the Co-Founder and CEO of The Funding Network Australia. Lisa is presenting Live Crowdfunding for Powerful Social Change on Thursday 1 June, as part of Vivid Ideas.