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Content last updated 29/03/2022

New funding and financing models

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New funding and financing models

With the increasing tightening of funding of not-for-profits, and the ever-present unmet social and environmental needs, new funding approaches are emerging.

Australia is beginning to adopt some approaches pioneered internationally, that seek to provide funding for activities that generate positive social or environmental impacts. These approaches include:

  • social or environmental impact investments
  • microfinancing
  • community finance
  • new lending practices, and
  • social impact bonds

Many of these approaches offer a blended return - a financial as well as social or environmental impact.

Each of these approaches raises legal issues for not-for-profits. In particular:

  • for a not-for-profit to be able to seek impact investors, it must set up a structure that can attract investors
  • not-for-profits can’t attract equity investors
  • not-for-profits can’t be 'owned' in the same ways that for-profits can be (ie. they can’t have shareholders), and
  • not-for-profits can’t distribute profits

For these reasons, legal structuring needs to be carefully considered if a not-for-profit wants to be able to attract investors.

More information

Our Social Enterprise Guide steps through legal structuring in more detail, including hybrid structuring that can enable not-for-profits to benefit from equity investors. 


Social impact bonds

Social impact bonds (SIBs) are a financial instrument that pays a return based on the achievement of agreed social outcomes. To date in Australia, SIBs have been initiated by state governments to address social problems that were previously funded exclusively by government grants.

Our fact sheet covers:

  • whether a SIB is right for your organisation
  • how to set up a SIB
  • how to measure outcomes, and
  • key legal issues associated with SIBs
Fact sheet: Social Impact Bonds (584.2KB)
Download

Debt financing

Debt financing is one way an organisation can enhance its financial position and long-term sustainability.

Our fact sheet provides an overview of the key concepts in debt financing and explains some of the terminology that is used in debt financing arrangements.

Fact sheet: Debt financing (432.1KB)
Download

Equity financing

Equity financing is the way that an organisation raises money by ’selling’ an ownership stake in itself to a third party.

Our fact sheet provides an overview of the key concerns in equity financing, including:

  • what is equity financing?
  • types of equity
  • dividends
  • transferring equity
  • issuing equity
  • governance
Fact sheet: Equity financing (473.4KB)
Download

Financing glossary

To assist in your organisation's understanding of debt financing, equity financing, social impact investing and investors (definitions and resources), we have developed a comprehensive financing glossary. It is a useful tool for reading alongside our other resources in this section on new funding approaches.

Fact sheet: Financing Glossary (493.9KB)
Download

More information


The content on this webpage was last updated in March 2022 and is not legal advice. See full disclaimer and copyright notice.


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