Media Release

Posted: February 1, 2018

Our Community House to open Q4 2018

Carol Schwartz

Australia's leading social enterprise, Our Community, has today announced a landmark project to accelerate social impact in Australia through a partnership with leading social impact and property investors, Carol and Alan Schwartz.

"Our Community House" is a co-working space that will bring together some of Australia's leading not-for-profit organisations and social enterprises to rethink how change is made in Australia.

Our Community, an 18-year-old social enterprise and highly-ranked Accredited B Corp, will be the anchor tenant and project leader. The organisation, whose paid products and services cross-subsidise a range of free and heavily subsidised services for not-for-profits, will relocate its 60 staff to the new inner-city Melbourne building in late 2018.

The new building will serve as headquarters for Our Community's SmartyGrants software solution (used by around 250 government and philanthropic grantmakers to manage more than $1 billion in grants each year), GiveNow (the e-commerce platform used by around 4000 not-for-profit organisations to process and manage their donations), the Institute of Community Directors Australia, and other Our Community enterprises.

Our Community will be joined at OC House by a range of forward-thinking not-for-profit organisations, as well as data scientists and social-good communicators, a new Media Hub for the sector, and a select group of businesses that work alongside not-for-profits to create positive social change.

Our Community is also in OC House partnership discussions with government agencies and with a leading academic institution, and has secured the support of one of the world's leading social sector data scientists, Andrew Means, the American-based founder of Data Analysts for Social Good.

"In many ways, OC House will be defined by what it's not," said Our Community founder and Group Managing Director Denis Moriarty. "There won't be beanbags and slides. This is not a space for boys with MacBooks and 'move fast and break things' agendas. We'll be harnessing the hard-won experience of those who have forged a career in the social sector, in partnership with government agencies, to create real change.

"This will be a place where seasoned social-change organisations can concentrate on catalysing sustained change. Plus we will be throwing in some youthful enthusiasm to create the sort of change that builds a more functional, cohesive, inclusive society."

Mr Moriarty said OC House was not a charitable enterprise.

"As a B Corp, we place equal weight on our bottom line and our social agenda and this ethos will flow through to this new building, though the tenants will get a lot more bang for their buck than they would renting or leasing elsewhere," he said.

"OC House will demonstrate that improving the data and communications capabilities of high-performing effective social sector organisations can accelerate structural change, while co-locating will foster an ethos of collaboration and innovation that will ensure that ideas and tools can fan out across the sector."

The OC House building will be purchased by leading businesswoman, social investor and Reserve Bank Director Carol Schwartz (who is also Our Community's chair and lead investor) and her husband, businessman and President of Philanthropy Australia Alan Schwartz. It will also be supported by Carol and Alan's family foundation, the Trawalla Foundation.

Denis Moriarty

"Over the many years that I've chaired Our Community I've witnessed the emergence of a fundamentally different work culture, one that embraces risk and innovation, and respects its employees' desire for an authentic life balance, while offering the opportunity to shape the world, and help others to do the same," Ms Schwartz said.

"I have no doubt that this culture will infect anyone who works in or visits OC House.

"I'm also excited by the prospect of being involved in breaking new ground in the quest for faster and more effective social change."

Our Community is inviting expressions of interest from not-for-profit organisations, social enterprises, government agencies and socially minded businesses who would like to be involved in the project. Data scientists and communications professionals with experience in creating tools and campaigns that support social change are also invited to get in touch.

OC House will have space for entire staff groups (large and small), or satellite teams wanting to incubate new ideas. Space will also be set aside to allow representatives of not-for-profits operating in rural Victoria to have a Melbourne base, and for sole operators and casual users. Visiting interstate and overseas social change-makers will also be accommodated.

Tenants will be offered the opportunity to nominate and participate in data and communications activities, including getting access to a high-level team of data scientists and social change communicators.

"Our Community employed our first data scientist two years ago and with our data team, we have seen a distinct acceleration in the impact created by our own Innovation Lab," Denis Moriarty said. "We want to give other social-change organisations the opportunity to experience a similar transformation.

"We're also keen to experiment in new ideas for the physical workspace - it will be a place that responds to the realities of modern life: where women work, men share caring responsibilities, green is good, and everyone seeks meaning in what they do.

"Not-for-profits are used to getting by with second-rate equipment and facilities, but we think that needs to stop. OC House will deliver a stylish, modern working space, incorporating shared and private spaces, places to meet, eat, train and celebrate, and clever, passionate people brought together by a common desire to create a better world."

To find out more, visit www.ourcommunity.com.au/OCHouse


Denis Moriarty: 03 9320 6812 or Mobile 0417 184 744 - denism@ourcommnity.com.au

Eden Rose: 03 9320 6811 or Mobile 0418 103 083 - edenr@ourcommunity.com.au

Kathy Richardson 03 9320 6815 or Mobile 0439 397 781 - kathyr@ourcommunity.com.au