The Benevolent Society (TBS) turned around a business portfolio from a $50 million loss to a break even position in 12 months, with no industrial action or other adverse legal action, whilst maintaining a strong organisational brand and culture. The Benevolent Society was founded over 200 years ago with a vision of a just society where all Australians can live their best life. Over this time, TBS has worked as a not-for-profit and nonreligious organisation, to empower and advocate for personal, family and societal change. In 2019, TBS supported over 44,000 vulnerable Australians through child and family, disability and ageing services. They have 1,384 highly skilled staff and 352 volunteers, operating across NSW, ACT, QLD and SA from 57 locations in metropolitan, regional and rural areas. TBS work within the human services industry, providing services funded substantially though government funding. This may be through grant/block funding or through fee-for-service (such as through the NDIS). TBS delivers impact for individuals, families, communities and society through their wide range of services.
TBS is a strong participant in the human services market. The initiative was launched on 6 May 2019 with over 400 scheduled meetings with staff. The key objective to the initiative was to redesign the organisational service delivery structure for Disability Services so that it operated at a sustainable level (either at a profit, or break even). In essence, the strategy was formed by considering how TBS would provide existing services to clients within a staffing cohort in a way that delivered a financial surplus overall (including taking into account overheads, etc). TBS then applied this to their existing workforce structure.
The most important factor contributing to the success of this initiative was the careful planning and execution by the HR team and management. This meant that TBS were prepared for challenges, and had a clear plan about how to overcome them. The workforce has been the essential part of the achievement of bringing their organisation to a sustainable level. This is through their diligence, and commitment to their work, the organisation and their clients. The initiative was considered a success, with Disability Services breaking even in the month of November 2019.