Why a Business Model for Community Sector Services?

CCWT presenter Grace Leotta writes about business models and why they matter:

Times have changed. Services are working in an increasingly competitive environment. People who use services expect to have a greater choice in the support they receive and how and by whom that support is provided. In some sectors like disability and aged care, people have control over their funds and can choose their service; basically where they will spend their money.

At the same time organisations are seeking to secure their income that is increasingly dependent on achieving specific outputs and outcomes and, for some, on revenue from people who use their service.

In this type of environment what distinguishes one service from another?

How do people seeking services decide that your service is the best fit for them? What do you have to offer that is of value to them?

This is where a business model is essential. It identifies what you do, what gains it achieves for people, what services you will provide and what it takes to provide them.

Developing a business model is the process of answering a set of defining questions and then aligning the directions and efforts of your service to achieve your desired results. Some of these questions are:

  • Who are your target service users and what do you have to offer that is of value?
  • What differentiates you from other services?
  • How do you reach, maintain and communicate with people who you expect to use your service?
  • What internal resources, activities and processes, as well as external partnerships and networks do you need to provide what is of value?
  • What is the cost of providing services, the income to cover those costs, and where and how you will obtain your required income?
  • Considering your current ways of doing things, what do you need to adapt to match your business model to take your service into the future?
  • And importantly, how do you communicate your business model, get the buy-in from everyone in your service, and implement it in a consistent way?

The upcoming CCWT workshop, Developing the Best Business Model for Your Service in the New Environment, on Tuesday June 20, is for managers and those responsible for making decisions about organisational strategy. Participants will develop an outline for a business model for their service based on business model elements relevant for community service organisations, take away tools and templates to use in their service, identify ways to work with their Board/Management Committee, staff and partners to implement their business model, and develop strategies to adapt current systems, processes and practice to match their new business model.

Grace Leotta is an organisational, community development and training consultant. She develops and facilitates training programs, facilitates service development/change management, community engagement and planning processes, and conducts reviews, evaluations and research.