Perspectives

ENGAGE for social impact

How funders can support and leverage networks

ENGAGE is a guide developed by The Monitor Institute, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, to strengthen the capacity of grantmakers to support and leverage networks in service of their social impact goals. The information in this guide is designed to help guide grantmaking action and offered in the service of decision-making. It is organized to guide you through a range of key questions to consider as you explore how engaging with a network might play a role in your work.

What is this guide?

This guide is a tool to help you…

  • Think through the critical questions of whether and when to use a network to accelerate impact
  • Understand your role in supporting a network and how that may change over time
  • Answer the “upstream” questions around a network’s conception, design, utility and resource requirements
  • Learn from real-world stories of networks (their funders and leaders) who are using networks to solve a range of tough problems

This guide is structured around a series of questions that will help you navigate the process of deciding whether to engage with a network and how to do so. The material is organized in a sequence starting with the types of problems social impact networks are suited to address, what networks can help you do, to the very practical roles funders can play in support of networks.

We have seen first-hand the transformative outcomes that can be powered by a funder’s effective engagement with a social impact network. It is our earnest hope that this guide will help you find and pursue the opportunities to do that in your grantmaking.

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To learn more visit the

ENGAGE Website

A special addition to ENGAGE

PARTICIPATE: The power of involving business in social impact networks

While many social sector leaders understand that engaging the private sector in social impact networks matters, far fewer understand how to do so, particularly when it comes to the practical specifics. For instance: Why would a network want to include a company? Or conversely, why would a company want to participate in a network? Can an effort create social impact while delivering business value? What makes network relationships durable? And ultimately, what are the different needs around accountability, leadership, governance and mindset? To answer questions such as these, Monitor Institute has created “PARTICIPATE: The power of involving business in social impact networks”—as a special addition to ENGAGE—and for social change leaders working to understand how to effectively engage the private sector as authentic participants in the pursuit of social impact.

How this guide was created

This guide was written by Anna Muoio, Noah Rimland Flower, and Kaitlin Terry at Monitor Institute, a part of Deloitte Consulting LLC, with input from Faizal Karmali and his colleagues at The Rockefeller Foundation.

We created this guide by speaking with 44 leaders and practitioners in the field (listed below) who are using networks to create change; digging into the deep pool of writing on the topic; and mining 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.

We offer our heartfelt thanks to the interviewees and contributors who volunteered their time and thoughtful reflection to enrich these ideas and provide living examples of the practices we describe. Our appreciation also goes to our colleagues Dana O’Donovan, Tony Siesfeld, Brian Hathaway, Megan Schumann, and the many others at Deloitte whose efforts helped usher this material from concept through to fruition.

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Monitor Institute

Monitor Institute is a social change consultancy that works with innovative leaders to surface and spread best practices in public problem solving and to pioneer next practices—breakthrough approaches for addressing social and environmental challenges. Monitor Institute marries a deep grounding in strategy, networks, social innovation, and human systems with the fundamentals of professional advisory services—effective project management, skilled facilitation and well-timed intervention. As a for-profit/for-benefit hybrid, Monitor Institute pursues social impact while operating as a fully-integrated part of the Social Impact practice of Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. The Social Impact practice helps clients in the public, private, and social sectors become a catalytic force to meet our greatest societal challenges.

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​The Rockefeller Foundation

​For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Today, The Rockefeller Foundation pursues this mission through dual goals: advancing inclusive economies that expand opportunities for more broadly shared prosperity, and building resilience by helping people, communities and institutions prepare for, withstand, and emerge stronger from acute shocks and chronic stresses. To achieve these goals, The Rockefeller Foundation works at the intersection of four focus areas–advance health, revalue ecosystems, secure livelihoods, and transform cities–to address the root causes of emerging challenges and create systemic change. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations, create unlikely partnerships that span sectors, and take risks others cannot–or will not.

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