Blogs tagged with Systems change

  • Diana Ayton-Shenker, CEO, Global Momenta and Global Catalyst Senior Fellow, The New School
    Posted: July 17, 2017

    In reflecting on the recent Social Impact Exchange Conference on Scaling Impact, organized in partnership with Morgan Stanley, several recurring themes emerged throughout the event: collaboration; innovation; and new ways to harness capital for good. The most striking takeaway of the gathering for me was how important it is for philanthropic change-makers to come together in a safe space and exchange best practices, lessons learned, and new ideas to foster positive social impact. All of these themes fall under the umbrella of how philanthropists can shift mindsets and strategies to create systems-level change. But what does it really mean to achieve systems change? Here are some inspirations that hit home for me and my role in the sector:


  • Maura Donlan, Director, Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy
    Posted: July 11, 2017

    About the same time that the Social Impact Exchange Conference on Scaling Impact was wrapping up in New York City on June 15, Jeff Bezos was breaking the internet—or at least his tweet was. With little preliminary fanfare, Bezos took to Twitter to ask the world for ideas to inform his “philanthropy strategy” with a special emphasis on the short term—the “here and now.” Since then, Bezos has received more than 45,000 replies and counting. Not bad for a month’s worth of crowdsourcing.

    To find good ideas, Bezos could have also attended the 2017 Social Impact Exchange Conference (SIEx17). Organized in partnership with Morgan Stanley, it brought together an impressive group of social innovators, philanthropists, and financial experts to explore ways to collaboratively fund and implement scalable initiatives that ultimately lead to systems transformation. Having attended my share of gatherings over the years, I have to admit I was somewhat skeptical about learning anything new or actionable. But I was wrong.  If he had attended, Mr. Bezos would have been able to benefit from some of the most cutting-edge thinking on how to find solutions that, as he phrases it, sit at the “intersection of urgent need and lasting impact.”

  • Saskia Siderow, MPH, Managing Director, Ormond House LLC
    Posted: July 3, 2017

    Language matters. Evidence matters. Transparency matters. In 2017, these may sound like political statements, but they are not intended to be. For those of us in the business of solving the world’s most intractable problems, they should be the fundamental tenets of our work. Nothing political, but simply the most efficient way to proceed: define your problem, design or fund programs based on sound evidence, develop and follow set protocols for your intervention and evaluation, report results in good faith. And as we look for effective ways to design and achieve system-wide change, these golden rules become even more important.

    At this year’s Social Impact Exchange gathering – held in two exciting content-rich days in mid-June – presenters and delegates explored myriad methods for achieving impact at scale: systems-thinking to uncover the best leverage points, cross-funder collaboration, partnership with government and other stakeholders, market forces, systemization of existing knowledge and entrepreneurial chutzpah. The golden rules were perhaps taken as given, but we should be careful not to lose sight of them as our goals become more ambitious.

  • Chris Langston, Board Chair, Social Impact Exchange and VP, HealthCare Services, Aging in New York Fund
    Posted: June 15, 2017

    On the occasion of the seventh annual meeting of the Social Impact Exchange, I would like to thank all who make it possible.  As the Chair of the Board of Directors, it is a pleasure to support President & Co-Founder, Alex Rossides, and Co-President, Toni La Belle, and all of their colleagues in their work.  We are also all grateful to all our meeting sponsors (listed here) and especially our partner, Morgan Stanley.  Without their effort and support we would not be meeting in New York once again. 

    However, we could not put on as substantive a conference without the insights and connections we gain from our work with funders and non-profits all year round.  So, we should also thank the members of our working groups in early childhood, health, and poverty alleviation for their dues and the grant funds we have received to push this agenda over the last seven years  (Hint, hint).

  • Taylor Nelson, Solutions Journalism Network
    Posted: July 1, 2014

    Following her opening plenary speech at the Social Impact Exchange Conference on Scaling Impact on the morning of June 18, Heather McLeod Grant facilitated a two-hour interactive session called The Whole Is Greater Than the Sum of the Parts. This session translated the conceptual ideas and learning from McLeod Grant’s speech and the subsequent panel into practical skill sets for network-mapping. The power of this technique extends beyond the practical understanding of how to map a network to a more intricate "knowledge-share process" among stakeholders. 

    Concepts, strategies, and ideas were put into practice by bringing different stakeholders to the table, thus creating a shared understanding of the problem at hand. Who are the stakeholders? Where are the barriers, opportunities, and missing links?  Network mapping provided us attendees the opportunity to increase awareness and understanding of systems behind social issues, such as education, health, and poverty alleviation.