The Social Innovation Forum (SIF) is proud to have contributed a chapter to Managing for Social Impact: Innovations in Responsible Enterprise, a recently published book featuring chapters and case studies written by thought leaders, industry analysts, and managers of global and local organizations who are engaged with innovative models of sustainable social impact. Co-edited by Boston College’s Tiziana Dearing and Mary Cronin, Managing for Social Impact gives a unique practitioner’s view of the many different avenues of impact, including the Social Innovation Forum’s signature “marketplace approach” to building meaningful communities of social purpose leaders and like minded supporters to accelerate social change.
When Mary Cronin approached Executive Director Susan Musinsky and me to contribute a chapter on SIF, we were excited for the opportunity to share our distinctive approach with a broader audience. When strategizing what direction to take with the chapter, we considered simply explaining what we do. We could describe the technical aspects of our capacity-building programming for social good organizations through our accelerator programs and our engagement and education opportunities for supporters and funders. And while the different components of our programs are indeed interesting, we instead challenged ourselves to use the book chapter to begin to capture SIF’s “special sauce,” the how of what we do and why we are so intent on doing it in certain ways.
Every aspect of our work is done with a relentless intentionality to bring people together in those meaningful ways to exchange ideas, resources, skills, and connections without the power dynamics all too pervasive in social impact work.
If you’ve ever been to an SIF event or have gotten deeply involved in our community, you can likely attest to the ubiquitous energy that can be felt in our rooms. That feeling doesn’t happen by chance and in fact, every aspect of our work is done with a relentless intentionality to bring people together in those meaningful ways to exchange ideas, resources, skills, and connections without the power dynamics all too pervasive in social impact work. What we’ve captured in our chapter and coined as our “marketplace approach” to building and supporting sustainable social change organizations is the beginning of an effort to help others to think about how to engage those around them to bring about change in their own communities. The idea behind the marketplace is that all participants give value to, and receive value from, each other. And while that seems like a simple concept, our chapter shows that it takes a consistent commitment to ensure that the give and take is genuine and sustainable.
Although finding ways to express deeper layers of the how and why of SIF’s approach was challenging, and while SIF still has much work to do as an organization, we are excited to be a part of Dearing and Cronin’s book and to bring our perspective on social change work to more people passionate about creating impact in their communities. We’re also thrilled in be included in the book alongside SIF Social Innovators UTEC and Haley House and many other friends and colleagues.