Grant strategies to build nonprofit capacity

A story of collective impact in practice: the CSIA journey from concept to outcomes

This week we’ve asked our friends at the Community Services Industry Alliance to provide a guest blog for us, introducing who they are, what they do and how they fit in with collective impact


LouiseAuthor: Louise Hughes, Marketing Strategist, CSIA

Louise has been there practically from the start of CSIA, having been involved first as in-house marketer and Project Manager for CSIA’s predecessor, the Community Services Industry Body (CSIB) project and then as external Marketing Consultant for the CSIA itself.

The Community Services Industry Alliance (CSIA) is an industry body that, at its heart, aims to:
• increase the capacity and viability of community service organisations, and
• secure a prosperous future for the Community Services Industry.


The CSIA is a collective impact success story. It ticks all five key conditions for collective impact:

• all participants have a common agenda for change
• data is consistently collected and results are measured to ensure alignment and accountability
• there is a plan of action that outlines and coordinates mutually reinforcing activities for each participant
• there is open and continuous communication
• and there is a backbone organisation with staff, and a specific set of skills to serve the entire initiative and coordinate participating organisations.

Here is how this unique alliance came about.

The conception of the Community Services Industry Alliance (CSIA) represents a pivotal moment in the history of the Community Services Industry, one brought about by the industry’s passion and dedication to change.

Like all good stories of collective impact, the start came with the realisation that radical change was required. This lightbulb moment was triggered by a question at a meeting of the Community Services Futures Forum (Futures Forum) in March 2011:

How could the sector work better together in the face of significant and unprecedented change in the state and national community services environment?

Some jigsaw pieces of the complete answer were identified:
- shift the discussion from organisational size to organisational behaviour
- examine both enablers and blockers for effective sector collaboration
- look at the possibility of collaboration as a means of solving organisational sustainability concerns
- delve into best practices for consortium/partnership/collaboration models
- better define the relationship between the sector and government
- provide a framework for sector development and investment.

All this lead to the commissioning – and publication – of Trevor Carlyon’s Working Together: A Green Paper 12-months later.

What happened then?

Having put in motion the idea of a Community Services Industry Body, the Working Together green paper was to play a key role in what was to come next.

A steering committee formed and work began in earnest to establish an organisation that could focus on the business of the business rather than frontline policy, which is the clear domain of peak bodies.

Throughout 2013, State-wide Industry consultation took place via events, one-on-one meetings, online surveys and other regular marketing and communication efforts.

The result?

Fatigued by change, organisations across the state made it clear that it was the right time for the Community Services Industry to take control of its own agenda.

Agreement was widespread that the Industry needed to be better positioned to respond to changing political, funding, competitive and demographic conditions. A big task!

But the Industry wanted this badly enough that they put funds on the table to help make it happen.

Queensland organisations, large and small, were first in line to get the CSIA up and running.

The Community Services Industry Alliance

In March 2014, the CSIA was registered with ASIC, and Belinda Drew became its first CEO.
Since its birth, the CSIA has made substantial headway with progressing the agenda identified by the Industry. In just three-years, they’ve already produced some amazing outcomes:

In 2016, the CSIA partnered with Deloitte to develop the Forecasting the Future: Community Services 2025 report, and disperse its findings through a series of state-wide educational workshops.

They’ve played a substantial role in funding reforms concerning the NDIS, child and family reforms, procurement reforms, and the move towards the focus-on-outcomes approach.

They’ve built private sector partnerships, supported the growth of leadership capacity, and used data to profile the size and nature of the business of community service delivery.

The CSIA has provided a guiding hand in the supply of workforce for NDIS implementation in Queensland, , along with their partners: NDS Queensland, QCOSS, and the Health and Community Services Workforce Council.

Things to come in 2017 include:
• making space for social innovation at the Myriad Festival
• events focused on strengthening the businesses of community service organisations
• growing the CSIA resource library
• work with out-of-home care providers to develop an Industry excellence framework for child-safe/child-friendly organisations
• a showcase of women of influence in the Community Services Industry
• the scoping out of a National Industry Leadership Forum to drive industry-led reform
• industry support initiatives:
     -  as the NDIS and consumer-directed care reforms roll out
     - responding to the impacts of the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Increased Competition, Contestability and Consumer Choice in Human Services, due for release this year
     -  responding to the Queensland Government’s Community Services Industry Strategy, also due for release this year.

Membership continues to grow – both in Queensland and nationally – as the story of the CSIA’s success continues to spread.

There’s a lot more work for the CSIA to do yet but they have a significant plan of action laid out to kick those goals.

The CSIA has an open-door policy; they encourage all community service organisations (regardless of size or location) who are not yet part of the CSIA movement of change, to get involved.

PART OF THE COMMUNITY SERVICES INDUSTRY? BECOME A CHANGE-MAKER TODAY. JOIN THE CSIA here