Network Impact accelerates and spreads the development and use of networks to support positive social change. We provide consulting, tool-building, and research services to support social-impact networks, foundations, and the emerging field of network builders. Our work falls into the following categories and may encompass several. Under each category, you will find a link to a sample case.
Network Start Up and Design
To a large extent, network building is a matter of design. If you’re a start up network, you’ll need to decide on your network’s membership and structure, agree on a shared purpose, clarify members’ value propositions and create the basic infrastructure for healthy network functioning and development. We help early-stage network builders anticipate and make design decisions that fit the network’s goals and agenda and support its initial launch. Read a short description of one of our recent projects.
Network Planning and Management
After start up, many social impact networks evolve, mature and become more complex. As this occurs, a network typically needs more “care and feeding.” In most cases, this includes more elaborate infrastructure for communications and coordination as well as increased capacity to decide and carry through on network plans. Planning and management in networks looks different than it does in organizations. Network Impact offers advice to practitioners who are wrestling with common challenges that arise in more mature networks and helps network builders develop plans that set a clear direction while leaving room for emergence and surprise. Read a short description of one of our recent projects.
Network Research and Evaluation
The more change-makers learn about social impact networks – how they originate, what makes them thrive, and how they develop over time – the better they can grow networks that are effective, efficient and sustainable. Network Impact leads the field in research and evaluation that focuses specifically on social impact networks. In response to the growing interest of grantmakers, practitioners and evaluators, we design, implement and write about network assessments that fit how networks develop and function. In 2014 we partnered with the Center for Evaluation Innovation to create a guide to network evaluation that includes a framing paper with a summary of existing frameworks and approaches as well as a casebook that includes the details of nine network evaluations. Read a short description of one of our recent projects in this area.
Investing in Networks
As more foundations and donors recognize the potential of using network approaches to increase social impact, they run into some key questions: Where should they focus their investments in network building? What expectations should they have? Who/what entities will they fund? How will they evaluate the network’s performance? Network Impact works with grantmakers to assess opportunities to invest in social impact networks and offers advice about network activities and functions that benefit from funder support at different stages of a network’s development. Read a short description of one of our recent projects.
Tools and Technology for Network Development
We advise on the strategic development, use, and assessment of digital technologies that can facilitate network connectivity. This includes online communities or collaboration spaces and digital apps for crowdsourcing information. We also consult on the use of new and emerging tools that are helpful for visualizing network connections, identifying opportunities to strengthen a network and monitoring and evaluating a network’s progress over time. This includes social network analysis and network mapping. Read a short description of one of our recent projects.
Network Mapping. Funders and practitioners often need information about established relationships among stakeholders in order to fill gaps through active network building or to leverage existing ties. Network Impact designs and conducts research that produces network maps, or graphical depictions of the nodes and links in a network. Network mapping is useful for visualizing network connections, identifying opportunities to strengthen the network and for monitoring and evaluating a network’s progress over time.