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SRET - Help for the Helpers

Help for Australia’s disadvantaged is coming from an unlikely source. A major piece of research is hoping to show that money invested in training and developing leaders of community organisations will result in better support for those in need. The first stage of the research has shown a marked improvement in performance where people skill themselves up. (See chart).

SRET Graph

5    Strongly agree
4    Agree
3    Neither agree or disagree
2    Disagree
1    Strongly disagree

The consortium behind the research, the Australian Scholarships Foundation (ASF), the Origin Foundation and the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) at the University of New South Wales are scaling up the project to measure the Social Return from Education and Training on NFP sector effectiveness (SRET).

What is SRET?

SRET is a web based measurement system that initially will measure all the education and training activities supported and delivered by ASF and CSI. In time it will cover a wide range of other universities and independent training providers supporting NFPs.
The measurement framework uses proven methods to systematically capture data. It is robust, based on experience from the for-profit sector adapted to the NFP sector and utilizes a range of methods including control groups and social return on investment (SROI).

Tracking the use and impact of new education and skills

A key element of SRET is the use of lead indicators to capture the achievement of education/training goals and track the use of acquired skills and competencies. The system systemically captures the existing competency, training goals and aspirations of NFP individuals prior to training, progress towards goals during training for longer courses, the achievement of goals and aspirations on completion of training and the application of acquired skills and competencies at six monthly intervals.
SRET has already been integrated into ASF’s website and scholarship awards process. CSI will conduct a longitudinal research study to capture the long term value and impact of education and training on individuals, NFP organizations, sub-sectors of NFP activity, and the NFP sector as a whole.

The Economic Significance of the Not-For-Profit Sector

The economic and social significance of the Australian not-for-profit sector – it employs 900,000 people, engages 4.6 million volunteers and contributes $41 billion to the Australian GDP.

About the NFP sector in Australia:

  • 600,000 NFP entities
  • Nearly 10% or 59,000 NFPs are large employers
  • Employs 900,000 people (8% of Australian workforce)
  • Engages 4.6 million volunteers – wages equivalent $15 B
  • Has over $138 billion in assets
  • Contributes $41 billion to GDP (2006-07) or 4.1% of total Australian GDP
  • Equivalent to the contribution of government administration and defence and almost double that of the agriculture industry
  • Annual growth rate of 7.7%  (1999-2007)

“There is growing recognition that both the scale and quality of NFP leadership and management will have to increase significantly if it is to achieve its full potential and maximise its contribution to Australian society.

"High quality leadership and management education and training will be necessary for the NFP sector to more effectively work in partnership with Government and business to address major problems, and to exploit the shift from philanthropy and government contracts to social investment and outcome based commissioning.”

- Amy Lyden, CEO of ASF.