ENGAGE: Building and Harnessing Networks for Social Impact

Faizal Karmali and Claudia Juech at the Rockefeller Foundation: “Have you heard of ‘X’ organization? They’re doing interesting work that you should know about. You might even want to work together.”

Words like these abound between individuals at conferences, at industry events, in email, and, all too often, trapped in the minds of those who see the potential in connecting the dots. Bridging individuals, organizations, or ideas is fulfilling because these connections often result in value for everyone, sometimes immediately, but often over the long term. While many of us can think of that extraordinary network connector in our personal or professional circles, if asked to identify an organization that plays a similar role at scale, across multiple sectors, we may be hard-pressed to name more than a few—let alone understand how they do it well….

In an effort to capture and codify the growing breadth of knowledge and experience around leveraging networks for social impact, the Monitor Institute, a part of Deloitte Consulting, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, have produced ENGAGE: How Funders Can Support and Leverage Networks for Social Impact— an online guide which offers a series of frameworks, tools, insights, and stories to help funders explore the critical questions around using networks as part of their grantmaking strategy—particularly as a means to accelerating impact….

ENGAGE draws on the experience and knowledge of over 40 leaders and practitioners in the field who are using networks to create change; digs into the deep pool of writing on the topic; and mines the significant experience in working with networks that is resident in both Monitor Institute and The Rockefeller Foundation. The result is an aggregation and synthesis of some of the leading thinking in both the theory and practice of engaging with networks as a grantmaker.

Compelling examples on how the Foundation leverages the power of networks can be seen in the creation of formal network institutions like the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) and the Joint Learning Network for Universal Health Coverage, but also through more targeted and time-bound network engagement activities, such as enabling greater connectivity among grantees and unleashing the power of technology to surface innovation from loosely curated crowds.

Building and harnessing networks is more an art than a science. It is our hope that ENGAGE will enable grantmakers and other network practitioners to be more deliberate and thoughtful about how and when a network can help accelerate their work…. (More)