Ian Wishart, CEO

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Nurul, 18, advocating against child marriage in her communuity in Central Java, Indonesia

"A safe, resilient, just world for all children, where girls can take their rightful place as equals."

Ian Wishart, Chief Executive Officer

Our new purpose

We strive for a just world that advances children's rights and equality for girls.

We engage people and partners to:

  • Empower children, young people and communities to make vital changes that tackle the root causes of discrimination against girls, exclusion and vulnerability
  • Drive change in practice and policy at local, national and global levels through our reach, experience and knowledge of the realities children face
  • Work with children and communities to prepare for and respond to crises and to overcome adversity
  • Support the safe and successful progression of children from birth to adulthood

Old Strategy, New Strategy

This year brings us to the end of our five-year strategy ‘Champion for Child Rights’. Our aim to become an organisation inspired at every level by child rights has certainly been achieved.

By strengthening our work in policy and advocacy we have played an important role in securing gender targets for girls in the Sustainable Development Goals. We expanded our reach through the extension of our work into the Pacific and by growing the scale of our programs that impact multiple countries.

The first three years of this strategy saw us on track to meet our income targets but aid cuts by the Australian Government disrupted this trend. Public fundraising surged in the first three years but then required more intensive support as the market became more challenging. Fortunately our initiative to diversify our income diluted the impact and other grants from multilateral donors began to fill the breach.

Looking inwards we have worked to further modernise our organisation. By replacing our backend IT systems we can continue to improve the digital experience for our donors. Our management and team has grown stronger through our training and recruitment processes. We are also exploring ways to increase our agility and innovation.

These five years have allowed us to learn, grow and solidify our purpose. We are still the agency for children – one with increased revenue, a more diverse portfolio, greater development capability and a transformed management and technology base. We're ready with a bold, new strategy to harness our strengths to make an even bigger impact.

Watch this space.

Impact

Plan International Australia will have a significant and lasting impact in the fulfilment of child rights for more children around the world.

Over this five-year period we worked to broaden and deepen our lasting impact on children, families and communities. We have reached more children and young people in vulnerable communities than ever before. Our humanitarian programs continue to provide life-saving support to over one million individuals, while our hygiene and sanitation programs reached and benefited over four million people.

“ In total our programs materially improved the lives of millions of children and their families across more than twenty-five countries. ”

Reaching the most vulnerable and marginalised children and youth

In 2016 over 70% of our programs are implemented in settings characterised by poverty, marginalisation, fragility, and instability. Our programs largely focus on those who are excluded: young women and men from ethnic minority communities, children and youth with disabilities, and those who are ultra-poor. Our methodologies and program approaches have shown relevance and impact for these groups of children and young people.

A focus on quality partnerships

We established a range of strong, supportive collaborations with Australian and international agencies specialising in health services in conflict affected areas, urban disaster risk management, disability inclusion, and community resilience. In program countries we have established robust partnerships with nationally based NGOs able to work effectively with children, women and men in difficult and vulnerable circumstances.

Gender inequality and inclusive practice

Our emphasis on gender equality and inclusive practice was a key element of deepening the quality of our programs, with a range of program examples from our portfolio demonstrating transformative impact for women and girls. An evaluation of the five-year Promoting Rights and Accountabilities in African Communities program implemented in Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Uganda indicated reduced levels of gender based violence, increased women’s participation in community decision making, and improved livelihoods for participants in target areas.

Experts in our field

Our development and humanitarian capability was evidenced by our progress, through strong technical expertise and support provided to program partners and communities. Our teams in disaster management, hygiene and sanitation, and youth economic empowerment are recognised for their expertise by our program and donor partners, and funds raised from the Australian government and public supporters are being invested in programs designed and implemented to high quality standards.

Our work in the Pacific

Our program reach has expanded by geography too, and this strategy period saw us establish an operational presence in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in the Pacific. Plan now implements long term development and disaster management programs in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, and Tuvalu. In addition, partner implemented programs in Lebanon and Iraq have ensured our reach can serve children and women affected by conflict, displacement and violence.

Diversifying our work

We have worked to ensure the sustainability of our program and funding base by constructing a diverse portfolio of programs and donor partners. As a result Plan International is a preferred partner with both the Australian Government and a number of multi-national donor agencies. In 2016 we have over sixty projects funded by more than fifteen different donor agencies.

Influence

Plan International Australia will have a tangible influence on the perceptions, policies and practices that uphold child rights.

Over the course of this strategy, we made key contributions to policy and the public debate about a range of children’s rights issues.

Gender inequality

We have published a number of reports highlighting the discrimination experienced by Australian girls online and in their access to and enjoyment of urban spaces.

Through our Because I am a Girl campaign, we advocated for prioritising girls’ education in our overseas aid allocation. In 2014, we published a report on child marriage in the Indo-Pacific ‘Just married, just a child’ which was launched by the Minister for Women.

We have engaged in parliamentary inquiries to ensure better recognition of girls' rights in Australia’s overseas aid program. We have also worked \with other agencies to advocate for better government tracking of the aid money spent addressing gender inequality.

“ We have worked to ensure that the voices of children and young people are heard in the work that we do. ”

Sustainable Development Goals

In 2014, we worked with girls around Australia to develop a report asking for gender equality to be front and centre of the Sustainable Development Goals. The report – ‘our book of ambition’ was presented to Minister Julie Bishop by our youth ambassadors.

Children seeking asylum

We have stood together with other agencies in opposition to the ongoing immigration detention of children. We have been publically on the record calling for an end to detention of children and for independent monitoring of the conditions of detention on Nauru.

Climate change

The impacts of climate change are being felt by children in many of the countries where we work. In 2015, we supported young people here and in the Philippines to consult with their peers about what commitments our government should make at the Paris meeting on Climate Change. The results were published in the report ‘We stand as one: children, young people and climate change’ which was co-written with young people in the Philippines and Australia and taken to Paris by Plan International’s global youth representatives.

Birth registration

Plan International has been a global leader in advocating for universal birth registration for many years. Over the course of the last strategy we funded research undertaken by the Castan Centre for Human Rights into the issue of under registration of births within Australian Indigenous Communities and contributed to the monograph ‘Proof of Birth’.<.p>

Youth Leadership

We’ve learnt the importance of providing young people with a key role in our work and ensuring their voices are heard. In 2013 we worked with Unicef and children in Australia to prepare a child-friendly version of the concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child. We have provided opportunities for young people to sit on our board sub-committees, to hear what is happening at an organisational level and to provide their opinion and input on our work.

Ensuring young people have a voice and platform to create change will play a core role in our work in the years to come.

Income

Plan International Australia will strengthen its income portfolio to support our expanded child rights programming for children.

Our five-year strategy aimed to increase Income in order to increase Impact for children while at the same time diversifing our revenue sources to reduce our risk of exposure to any single source of revenue. We were fortunate enough to achieve both during the strategy despite some strong headwinds. Our revenue grew by $21.5m or 51% and our ratio of public fundraising revenue to institutional grant revenue moved from 63:37 to a more balanced ratio of 46:54. We diversified our revenue through expansion of DFAT grants, the World Food Programme and other overseas grants while spreading our private giving across other products besides child sponsorship.

Growth and opportunities

The external environment for fundraising has never been more competitive, so we’re pleased to have sustained our fundraising revenue in this challenging environment and to have grown in some key areas.  We’ve seen encouraging growth in regular giving (outside of sponsorship), in community fundraising, and in corporate partnerships where we’ve developed an exciting new relationship with Etsy and continued to strengthen our much-valued relationship with Intrepid Travel.

We have also placed significant focus on efficient use of our funds. We’ve invested in the latest technology to keep track of our donors’ experience and ensure it is seamless, and invested in improving our communications channels with our donors. As a result donors are staying with us for longer, which means greater fundraising efficiency.  In fact, our Cost Ratio, which measures total administration and fundraising costs as a percentage of total revenue, has reduced from 24% to 20% over the course of the strategy.

Challenges and learnings

This financial year revenue fell by $4.9 million compared to the previous financial year. This drop was in part caused by cuts to the foreign aid budget and in part due to the relief funds we received the previous year in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Nepal that resulted in our strongest year for revenue on record. The cuts to foreign aid have been extremely disappointing and sit in contrast to commitments from world leaders to give 0.7% of national income as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Face to face fundraising has also been challenging. It’s unpredictable and under regulatory threat, which makes it difficult to predict our ability to attract new donors in that channel.

Despite a challenging environment we’re confident that entering a new strategy period, we will see further growth as a result of diversifying our income, investing in the latest technology and better understanding our supporters. We expect more support as we work to tackle the crises hitting regions across the world. We hope to see leadership from our government in standing with the world’s poor and most vulnerable in order to address these global challenges.

Identity

Plan International Australia will establish a strong identity as the leading child rights agency in Australia.

Over the course of the five-year strategy we have worked to grow our presence and our identity to ensure more Australians identify us as the leading child rights agency in the country.

Our new brand

We have rolled out a new, bold, brand with a stronger sense of identity and connection to the global brand. We have launched a new website designed to amplify our brand and better communicate our work and purpose.

Media

This financial year saw us mentioned in the media 1,217 times, meaning 12.19 million people were potentially introduced to our work. Our launch of the report A Right to the Night made front page news and was responsible for a huge influx in web traffic and media mentions.

Social media

Our social media presence has continued to grow, with our partnership with Etsy seeing a spike in our Instagram audience and our Facebook and Twitter platforms continuing their steady growth, aided by our report launches and Twitter chats. By growing our presence on social media we’ve been able to introduce new people to our work and better familiarise them with our focus on creating a fairer world for all children, especially girls.

Our new strategy will see us solidify our voice and our purpose, with an aim to address our challenge to increase our brand awareness by growing as thought leaders and advocates for the rights of children and girls in particular.

That means you’ll be hearing a whole lot more from us. Stay tuned.