Our Community have announced a landmark project to accelerate social impact in Australia.
"Our Community House" will bring together in one building some of Australia's leading not-for-profit organisations and social sector change-makers, working alongside a team of social-good data scientists and communicators, as well as a select group of socially minded businesses.
Our Community, an 18-year-old social enterprise and highly ranked accredited B Corp, will be the anchor tenant and project manager. 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.
"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 and throwing in some youthful enthusiasm to create the sort of change that builds a more functional, cohesive, inclusive society.
OC House will have space for entire staff groups (large and small) and for satellite teams wanting to incubate new ideas. The tenants will pay market rates, but will get a lot more bang for their buck than they would renting elsewhere.
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, Alan Schwartz, businessman and chair of Philanthropy Australia. It will also be supported by Carol and Alan's family foundation, the Trawalla Foundation.
"Over the many years that I've chaired Our Community I've witnessed the emergence of a fundamentally different work culture, one that 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 in 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, founder of Data Analysts for Social Good.
Our Community is inviting expressions of interest from not-for-profit organisations, social enterprises and socially minded businesses that would like to be involved. Space will be allocated to allow representatives of not-for-profits operating in rural and regional areas to have a Melbourne base, and for sole operators and casual users.
Tenants not only will benefit from the efficiencies created by co-location but also will be offered the opportunity to participate in and benefit from joint data, media and communications activities, and will have access to a high-level team of data scientists and social change communicators.
"Our Community employed our first data scientist two years ago and we have since 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 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."
Interested in being part of Our Community House? To find out more, go to www.ourcommunity.com.au/OCHouse.