Connectivity is a Result: Learning in Networks

November 7, 2013 Leave a comment

Our friends at Third Sector New England (TSNE) have released an informative report about learning networks. From 2004 to 2012, TSNE and clusters of nonprofit organizations joined in a grant program designed to further social change through building relationships and sharing insights that enabled them to better work together to achieve common goals. The resource, entitled “Funding Learning Networks for Community Impact,” includes interesting explorations of the stages in the development of learning networks and the roles and functions that are key success drivers for nonprofit networks. There are also wonderful and resonant quotes throughout from participants of the Capacity Building Fund (CBF) about the power of and key contributors to effective networks, and I wanted to share a dozen that really jumped out, while strongly suggesting you consult the entire report:

“Bringing people together who have never talked is a result; it’s new engagement.” — CBF Network Participant

“You need to develop trust, build relationships, and learn how to hear each other before you do more difficult work together.” — CBF Network Participant

“It’s about how much people see overlap between their own and the collaborative interest. Need is a basic building block of relationship development.” — CBF Network Participant

“Networks form in different ways, and they need to develop a structure that fits that path.” — CBF Network Participant

“Youth participation builds youth participation.” — Social Justice Roundtable

“People can come and go, but some products have to be visible.” — CBF Network Participant

“Passion drives the work, but you have to articulate goals.” — CBF Network Participant

“Without a coordinator, experience has shown that the partners are not likely to have regular and sustained contact, even though they know it is what keeps the collaboration strong.” — Holyoke ABE/WD Collaborative

“The key to the sustainability of the learning network is that the potential product of the network’s learning needs to be the creation of a new resource that gives the individual network members a dramatically greater capacity to accomplish their individual missions.” — Hands Across North Quabbin

“Creating some level of structure so that people feel there is momentum and they are being held in a time-effective way is key.” — CBF’s fourth cohort quarterly meeting

“Since trust is a key asset, when new people come in, there has to be another period in which that trust is built. Sometimes it just takes time for people to work together enough that they feel ‘brought into’ the circle.” — United Teen Equality Center (UTEC)

“The trust that is growing between the coalition members carries over to work in other sectors and other forums.” — Conservation Law Foundation

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