Scaling impact is a challenging endeavor, but it’s possible.
In this article, we share five programmatic lessons that can help funders, social impact organizations, and the social sector, in general, make better decisions when scaling.
In many cases, scaling impact requires collaboration. Whether it’s solving COVID-19, climate change, or extreme poverty, solutions are only possible with shared knowledge and convening.
It’s All About the Evidence
In the world of social innovation, evidence is the game’s name. Whether it’s a controlled scientific study that reveals some general facts about the world or a well-designed business model, this gold data standard can help organizations better understand their impact and how to make it grow.
However, the evidence in itself isn’t a panacea. Making sense of it requires a bit of theory, prior experience, and a critical mindset. The best way to do this is to get out of the building and into the field. The result is a more holistic, collaborative approach to measuring the actual value of research and innovation. The resulting evidence can be used to develop more effective programs that deliver results.
It’s All About Partnerships
When the right partners are paired, they can bring their complementary strengths to create new value and accelerate growth. This is particularly important in an era of digital innovation when significant breakthroughs are often hard to achieve and scale.
Partnerships also offer the opportunity to gain access to new markets, technology, and ideas. These opportunities can help companies grow faster than they would and boost profits.
But partnerships can only succeed if they’re designed properly. For example, it’s crucial to set up a business structure to ensure everyone has a say in decisions. It’s also essential to indicate how much each partner owns and how they’ll share earnings and losses.
It’s All About the Data
When we talk about data, we generally refer to the information transmitted or stored on a device. But there is much more to it than that, and data can have many meanings.
It can be a series of numbers, letters, or words written on paper; it can be bytes and bits in the memory of electronic devices or facts stored inside a person’s mind.
For social impact organizations, data is a critical tool in helping to scale programs. It can help organizations identify new use cases and potential opportunities to deploy technology in new ways. It can also help them make informed decisions about the technology they use and the teams they build around it.
It’s All About the Network
A network is a collection of connected hardware pieces and node points, ranging from the most superficial connection between two servers to the enormous global Internet. It is also a complex structure comprising communication protocols, endpoints, and other technological components.
One of the more complicated things to do with a network is to measure it in terms of density, which varies from cluster to cluster. For example, Facebook is a dense network where users share many connections with others nearby. The mobile Internet is a less dense network where users have fewer connections to others.
It’s All About the Replication
Replication is a vital force in biology. It occurs as a result of binary fission in all living organisms.
Similarly, social replication is essential for scaling impact by copying successful social purpose organizations, programs, and sets of core principles in other geographic areas to increase their reach dramatically. Social replication can increase financial efficiency, data collection, and innovation.
The value of a replicating study is to confront existing theories and evidence with new data. This iterative process can advance theory by identifying contours, constraints, and expectations.