Celebrating Five Years of Innoweave Implementation Funding

April 16, 2018

How time flies! 2018 marks a significant milestone for Innoweave. In 2012, we began offering our cornerstone module, Impact and Strategic Clarity. Then, in 2013, we broadened our platform of social innovation modules and began supporting groups in new areas like developmental evaluation and social enterprise. As such, 2018 marks our fifth anniversary of Innoweave Implementation Funding on this full platform!

Innoweave funding gives community organizations and collectives the opportunity to work with coaches to design and implement social innovation approaches in their work. To date, we’ve awarded 449 grants to organizations and collectives across Canada, each intent on having a greater impact on socioeconomic and environmental challenges affecting our communities.

Innoweave has been a constantly evolving program. We’re dedicated to trying new ideas and adapting our services to fit what works best for the organizations we support. As we look back over the past five years, we see a great deal of change and learning.

Take a look at some of our blogs below, drawn from the past five years, to learn a bit about how Innoweave became what it is today.

The early days

Innoweave was established as one of the McConnell Foundation’s responses to numerous new pressures facing the nonprofit sector, including shifting funding dynamics from individual donors and institutional funders, as well as the changing nature, scale, and complexity of the socioeconomic problems we’re dealing with.

Participants at an early Innoweave workshop in January 2013.

This pressure gave rise to different approaches that are becoming more widely employed across the sector, such as developmental evaluation, social enterprise, social finance, collective impact, outcomes finance, constructive engagement, and scaling impact to name a few. Yet, it can be a real challenge to take these ideas and actually implement them into the daily work of nonprofits and charities. That’s Innoweave’s niche: to help passionate leaders identify their outcomes and learn about, explore, and implement approaches in order to become capable of achieving those outcomes.

Growing Innoweave’s implementation platform

Since we are built to meet the needs of the sector, Innoweave must constantly adapt to support new and innovative ways of working. Following our first funding round, we rolled out new modules throughout 2014 to help organizations in different ways. This included collective impact, scaling impact, outcomes finance, and constructive engagement. More recently, we brought a new explore and experiment resource online, for organizations using new iterative approaches to solve complex societal challenges in a lab setting.

Learning and adapting

As we continued to grow, the base of evidence and experience from which Innoweave could draw became more robust, and began to offer us some useful lessons. We’ve reviewed the hundreds of projects that we’ve funded, and outputs from more than 1,200 organizations that have attended our workshops. We continually ask ourselves, if our goal is to use social innovation tools to help organizations enhance their impact, what is working? We identified five learnings which we’ve tested and validated with implementers, coaches, and others since our first funding round in July 2013:

  1. Start with an intended impact.
  2. Develop a hypothesis or theory of change about how to generate impact.
  3. Use data and evidence to confirm you’re on the right path.
  4. Be prepared for a rigorous process (goal setting, design, testing, planning).
  5. Get ready for a change in perspective.

Growing Innoweave’s impact

These learnings have resonated across the nearly 500 grants that we’ve awarded, as reflected in survey responses collected by participating leaders that have completed coaching. Here’s a snapshot:

  • 96% of organizations completing impact coaching (to clarify their intended impact and devise a “theory of change” showing how they will get there) reported having “a clearer sense of the change (impact) our organization wants to hold itself accountable for” at the end of their engagement with Innoweave coaches.
  • 100% of organizations working with an Innoweave Developmental Evaluator agreed that the support had improved their interventions.
  • 91% of organizations working with social enterprise coaches indicated that they were clear on what they needed to do next to launch and/or improve their social enterprise.

The results we’ve seen on our platform have been positive, but success at scale is something we cannot achieve alone.

One of Innoweave’s initiatives — Youth CI — is delivered in partnership with the Laidlaw Foundation and the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

We’ve sought out new ways to partner with other funders that are similarly interested in helping organizations and collectives generate greater impact.

Innoweave leveraged its coaching network in 2016 to deliver Seniors SI in partnership with Employment and Social Development Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program.

Through these partnerships, we grow the capability of key domains to use new approaches and help spread the value of social innovation as a means to enhance impact.

Innoweave in the future

We are looking back on Innoweave’s impact to date, and we are also looking ahead to how Innoweave will evolve over the years to come. The social sector continues to adapt to address the complex challenges facing our country, and Innoweave is always looking to grow and change to meet these needs.

We are actively assessing our current module offerings, evaluating our platform structure and exploring the potential areas where our programming and coaching network can contribute to new approaches like Social R&D.

With the sunset of major initiatives like SiG, the McConnell Foundation is working with partners across the social innovation landscape to explore the future of this domain in Canada. We’re taking in what we’ve learned at Innoweave and exploring how our platform can grow to meet the needs of the future. We hope you’ll join us in this next phase of Innoweave’s journey!