Over the past 18 months, I’ve been participating in The Network of Networked Funders, a community of practice for grantmakers facilitated by the Monitor Institute. These grantmakers are supporting and working through networks to pool their learning and increase the impact of their respective grantmaking practices. In late 2011, Funder’s Guide to Networks will synthesize the knowledge and publish a print publication for the broader field of philanthropy.
I’m looking forward to spending some face-to-face time with the group when we meet on April 5th and 6th in San Francisco. The Community of Practice includes diverse perspectives: community foundations and private philanthropies working across a range of issues. They’re connected by a shared goal to understanding network practice and strategic allocation of their funds and time. The community of practice will be joined by several great network thinkers and doers, including June Holley, Eugene Kim and Roberto Cremonini.
Here’s more about the convening from Diana Scearce who is the network weaver for the group. We’ll be live tweeting insights, so if you want to follow along, ask questions, or share ideas about networks, follow the #netfunders hashtag on Twitter.
On the afternoon of Tuesday, April 5th, here’s a few of the topics we’ll be discussing:
Taking Risks with Networks. How and when to catalyze networks? When don’t networks work?
How to build network weaving capacity? What are the different models?
Governance and managing across difference in power and capacity in network participants / members.
How to create environments that encourage and celebrate working with a network mindset within foundations? How to overcome obstacles, like strict communications protocol?
Measuring the strength of our networks, how they change over time, what theory of change to develop, what longer term outcomes might be achieved through networks, etc.
How to support NGO leaders who want to work with a network mindset but run into obstacles, like their board?
How to support networks of individuals and foster citizen engagement?
In the evening on April 5th from 6-7 PM PST, I’ll facilitate an evening conversation about inspirational stories of the power of networks. Several local leaders who have lived inside of networks will join me, including Annie Leonard / Story of Stuff, Marnie Webb/TechSoup Global, and Deborah Mehan / Leadership Learning Community. Some topics we’ll explore:
What are some stories from your network that illustrate the power of working in a network?
What makes networks successful?
What make networks challenging?
What advice would you give to funders interested in supporting networks?
If you want to learn more about the networks, here’s a few blog posts:
A Tale of Different Networks: Netsquared and TSG (Video interview with Marnie)
Inspiration Overload About Networks
TechSoup Global Summit: Notes from Plenary Session
Story of Stuff
The Story of Stuff: An Inspiring Story
Leadership Learning Circle
On Wednesday, April 6th, we’ll work with communications expert Holly Minch to develop jargon-free language for talking about network work. In the morning, we will start the day with a skype video chat with Rami Al-Karmi, Founder and CEO of Shabakat, Al Ordon (JordanNet) who will share some lessons from his networked ngo called, Shabakat, translates into the word “network.” Rami is a participant in the E-mediat project.
So, be sure to follow the Twitter hashtag #netfunders and share your thoughts about networks.