We also, of course, have financial metrics. So for us success is remaining viable and sustainable. So if this truck is operating it means it's having the impact we want it to have. So it needs to be financially viable.
Success will be more sites, helping more people across more communities while not relying on philanthropic funding to keep us going so we can be a social enterprise in every essence of the words.
Success for us is also around interaction and engagement, so we track volunteer numbers, volunteer hours. We're working with the University of Melbourne, we have a masters in public health student doing a year long study into our program logic, into our evaluation framework which will lead to some more in depth qualitative studies around the people we're aiming to support.
So there's that evidence base to what we're doing, matched with the financial business of what we're doing.
TH: And have you got certain KPI's (key performance indicator) around what those statistics need to look like in terms of the percentage of asylum seekers against the percentage of general public shopping at the food truck to make it sustainable?
RS: Interesting, with 75 per cent against 25 per cent, in the middle is 50 per cent. Running the numbers as we have, literally the ratio is 50/50. We get 50 asylum seekers to 50 general public customers shopping on the same basket size.
We know on some sites we will absolutely lose money – but that's OK – because we know in others where the ratio of general public shoppers is a bit higher – it evens back out. So across a week, hopefully, those numbers balance out. And that's the exciting part.
It's what keeps us innovative and engaging as to how to we make it financial viable while trying to achieve the social purpose we have, because the two are both as important.
TH: The social-enterprise sector has traditionally looked to philanthropy, government partnerships and corporate social responsibility platforms for funding opportunities. Is crowd-funding changing that model?
RS: Crowd funding is really tapping the potential of people power. It's about giving people a choice.
So, while philanthropy may drive traditional funding in the not for profit sector into areas they particularly want to focus on, crowd funding allows you to target exactly what it is you want to do and hopefully the community will get behind it and support it.
It also allows the community to be really involved and invested in the project and the outcome.
I don't think crowd-funding will change the way social enterprise works. I think it's now part of the financing of new, emerging and existing social enterprises and I think it will grow in how much of a percentage it plays in that space. And time will tell.
In the food system movement we're seeing a very strong grass roots community movement coming through and that community movement is about people.
People can send things in all different directions so I think people power will continue to see an investment into crowd-funding. The data is certainly showing that it is growing across the social enterprise platforms which will make a change.
I don't think it will completely change the social enterprise space but I think it will create a great opportunity for people to have a go at new ideas.
So all of a sudden, I think the philanthropic world has opened up and it's a new space and it's an exciting space. For us as a medium to large not-for-profit organization, it allows us to connect with the community in a way that general philanthropy doesn't and allows us to try something innovative and creative.
To support the Food Justice Truck go to https://www.asrc.org.au/
Photographer: Tim Turner. Photo 3: Food Truck volunteer Elisa Ridout.