Scaling Up by Fostering “Smart” Networks

Case Study on Aflatoun - Child Finance: Changing an Ecosystem to Achieve Social Impact |Center for Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship, Duke University | 2010.

This Case Study on Aflatoun, one of the world’s leading social enterprises, examines how to create a “Path to Ecosystem Change” in order to achieve greater social impact. 

Building Smart Communities Through Network Weaving | June Holley and Valdis Krebs

This paper investigates building sustainable communities through improving their connectivity – internally and externally – using network ties to create economic opportunities. It shows that improved connectivity is created through an iterative and cumulatively scaled process of first “knowing” the network and then “knitting” the network, with a focus on the core network weaver’s journey from the center of the network to the periphery of the network.

The Networked Nonprofit | Jane Wei-Skillern & Sonia Marciano |Stanford Social Innovation Review | Spring 2008

The success of networked nonprofits suggests that organizations should focus less on growing themselves and more on cultivating their networks. The paper studies several organizations that exemplify this network approach. By mobilizing resources outside their immediate control, networked nonprofits achieve their missions far more efficiently, effectively, and sustainably than they could have by working alone. And so it is wrongheaded for nonprofit leaders simply to build their organizations. Instead, they must build capacity outside of their organizations. This requires them to focus on their mission, not their organization; on trust, not control; and on being a node, not a hub.

Collective Impact |John Kania and Mark Kramer | Stanford Social Innovation Review | Winter 2011

Large-scale social change requires broad cross-sector coordination, yet the social sector remains focused on the isolated intervention of individual organizations. This case study shows that successful collective impact initiatives typically have five conditions that together produce true alignment and lead to powerful results: a common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and backbone support organizations.

Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact Work |Fay Hanleybrown, John Kania, and  Mark Kramer | Stanford Social Innovation Review | January 2012

TThis follow-up on the popular "Collective Impact" case study provides updated, in-depth guidance on how to achieve collective impact and describes clear steps on how to implement collective impact.

Platforms for Collaboration | Satish Nambisan | Stanford Social Innovation Review | Summer 2009

Some of the brightest ideas for social change grow in the spaces between organizations and sectors. Yet few organizations have systems that make collaboration happen. To foster innovation, organizations need to develop places where they can come together and work creatively—that is, platforms for collaboration. In this article, a management expert identifies three kinds of collaboration platforms— exploration, experimentation, and execution—and then outlines what organizations can do to put these platforms to work for them.

The New Normal: Thoughts for Funders Supporting Scale | Carol Thompson Cole | Venture Philanthropy Partners

Carol Thompson reports on her experience in the philanthropic sector and speaks about the difficulties and challenges in working across sectors and the importance of relationships. She explains why leveraging and aligning efforts is the only way to have any real impact.

Cultivate Your Ecosystem | Gregory Dees | Stanford Social Innovation Review | Winter 2008

This article argues that Social entrepreneurs not only must understand the broad environment in which they work, but also must shape those environments to support their goals, when feasible. Borrowing insights from the field of ecology, the authors offer an ecosystems framework to help social entrepreneurs create long-lasting and significant social change.