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Growing Impact By Investing in Networks

MFG Archive

For our latest news round up, we take a look at Madeleine Taylor’s article from the Stanford Social Innovation Review, which examines the benefits for foundations investing in network building as a leverage tool.


Foundations are increasingly investing time, effort, and money into building networks in order to better achieve their goals and leverage resources. In several instances, smaller foundations have been able to increase their funding by working with other funders as network partners.


In ‘Investing in Networks Grows Impact’, Madeleine Taylor examines this growing trend to see whether this approach is worth the resources required to create and support its infrastructure, and if these produce results.


The article focuses on RE-AMP, a 160-strong network of Midwestern nonprofits and foundations with a focus on climate change. Originally funded by an $8.8 million investment from the Garfield Foundation, the network spent a year following a systems analysis process, which allowed them to work collaboratively to expand the use of renewable energy in the region. After the success of the first year, the foundation’s participants saw potential and created the Global Warming Strategic Action Fund (GWSAF), and now shares resources, including an online collaboration platform and systems for shared learning, communications, media, planning, and capacity building.


According to Taylor, this collaborative network approach helped increase contributions, and within the first few years other funders covered 75% of RE-AMP’s total budget. As a group, the funders are able to draw upon the collective knowledge of the network, by targeting their investments both as a group and in line with their individual priorities.


The network approach taken in this instance has been to a massive advantage, with several accomplishments at a state, regional and local level through the implementation of energy efficient resource standards, the creation of financing programs and influencing public transportation legislation. The value of the network approach in this instance is clear – allowing foundations to better harness their investment through collaborative grantmaking, enabling network funders to evolve and create effective strategic action while leveraging investments for greater impact.

To find out more about Network Impact, and to see how the investment in RE-AMP changed over time, be sure to visit the original article, published on the Stanford Social Innovation Review here. Follow Madeleine on Twitter at @networkimpact.


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