Fernando Fischmann

5 lessons for funding innovation for social change

11 November, 2014 / Articles

There are five key lessons for funding and innovation success:

1. Make the invisible visible. Discover unheard and tough causes and shine a spotlight on them. Social innovation comes from funding and advancing causes that sometimes are unspoken in society because they speak of a change that is seen as taboo. For example, funding emerging groups or issues advancing a LGBT health and rights movement in Russia or Uganda.

2. Invest in leaders with new ideas and be ready to invest in them as a first donor. Angel investors for commercial products and startup companies raise no eyebrows funding new entrepreneurs with bold ideas. We must take the same position when funding new leaders driving social change within their communities.

3. Empower communities to design their own innovations and change. Social sector innovation relies on strong groups owning and designing their own change, versus imposing ideas from elsewhere. Trust local communities to determine and design their own solutions.

4. Give core funding that allows new and sustaining grantees the flexibility to innovate. Donors’ obsession with project support is one of the biggest social sector barriers to genuine innovation.

5. Recognize that connection and collaboration is key. Social change cannot be achieved by lone corporations, organizations or individual leaders. It’s about major grass-roots change driven by movements — and collaboration is key.

It’s time to let go of our fears. It’s time to think big. It’s time to imagine how the world will shift if we can truly unleash the potential of social sector innovation — and start investing in real social change.




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