Scaling Social Impact

8 years of growing Family by Family

Social innovation can create many powerful opportunities to the challenges that many people face in their day to day lives. Family by Family is one such social innovation, designed by families for families and was created to address the question – how can we enable more families to thrive and fewer families to come into contact with crisis services?

For more information about how Family by Family was designed and what it is, go to:

The making of Family by Family

What is Family by Family?

Family by Family website

Since its inception in 2010, the service offer has expanded to 4 metropolitan sites in Adelaide SA and to Mt Druitt, in Western Sydney, NSW. The last 8 years has resulted in many opportunities to design, test and trial how to spread and scale social innovations.


Successful scaling: the building blocks

Below are some of the key aspects that have been important in scaling the social impact that is catalysed through implementing Family by Family.

  • Maintain a focus on what success looks like: for Family by Family it’s not about getting more sites, but more so is about scaling the social impact and change for families so that they can access the supports they need to make the changes they want to make in their lives – leading to more families thriving and in the longer term a reduction in the need for crisis services;
  • Continue to build the evidence base by being clear about the impact you’re measuring: this is key in demonstrating the success of the initiative, and supports you to tell the story of social impact and get values aligned partners on board to join you in your efforts;
  • Investigate if spreading and scaling may be easier to achieve in partnership, and create the right conditions for these partnerships to grow: recently Family by Family transitioned front line implementation of the program in South Australia to a values aligned implementation partner. Recognising that there could be a deeper opportunity to support more families to thrive through working with a partner who themselves were delivering other social programs within a scale infrastructure. We’re now testing the capability building and fidelity infrastructure that will be needed to support other partners implement the program in other sites nationally;
  • Concurrently, we also focus on continuing to develop what’s needed to support partners and frontline staff to successfully deliver the program with fidelity, all the while focusing on positive outcomes for families as the end game. This is where we are ensuring that frontline staff and partners are supported to deliver the program in the ever changing world that represents the community the program is working within;
  • Mobilising Investment for infrastructure development: this is key to creating the right scaffolding for the program to be delivered at scale with implementation partners, finding opportunities and funding partners to invest in this is critical in the success of scaling social impact!
  • Build demand: Don’t limit your focus on supply streams, also ensure you’re building demand for the program along the way across all the aspects of the service – families, funders, providers – they all need to want the program. There’s no point in scaling social impact if no one wants it.
  • All the time, keep iterating, learning, designing and testing the business model to support scaling the social impact, this will also be key in ensuring the program is sustainability supported to deliver social change.
Scaling up, scaling out and scaling deep

It’s valuable to map these efforts to into a scaling social impact framework, one that I find useful is the model below from Allyson Hewitt, MARS Innovation Labs.

Different dimensions of Scaling Impact Source: Allyson Hewitt, MARS Innovation Labs, Canada

Different dimensions of Scaling Impact
Source: Allyson Hewitt, MARS Innovation Labs, Canada

What we’ve seen in the Family by Family experience is that by doing all three concurrently – Scaling Up, Scaling Out and Scaling Deep – we develop the right conditions for spreading the innovation.

While each one can support a change to how the system engages, all three together has the potential to spur deeper social impact and change.