Great Learning

Strengthening Collaborations to Build Social Movements: Ten Lessons From The Communities For Public Education Reform Fund (CPER)

When change goals are large and far-reaching, no single organization or foundation can achieve them. Rather, big changes are most often achieved by broad movements.

Movements require a diversity of people and organizations who develop a shared vision, identity, and message frame for the changes they seek to bring about. They are fueled by common campaigns and coordinated ac¬tion. They are grounded in relationships that are sturdy enough to navigate challenges and to seize collective opportunities that emerge from coalitions and alliances forged across regions, constituencies, and issues. These essential elements do not simply arise out of good will and best intentions. They depend on funders’ sustained investment in field infrastructure, their tolerance for ambiguity, and their patience in realizing results.

Grantmakers that support movement building often find that they can achieve greater results when they collaborate with their donor peers by aligning or pooling funds toward shared goals, thereby increasing the total dollars available. Equally important, funders leverage their limited resources when they strengthen grantees’ capacity to collaborate effectively with each other.

This report explores how grantmakers can help strengthen collaborations among supported groups to advance ambitious social change goals. As noted by Grantmakers for Effective Organizations in Many Hands, More Impact, grantmakers can play a number of critically important roles in supporting social movement building: investing in a broad range of organizations, change strategies, and issues; brokering relationships among groups and their allies; connecting grantees to one another in impactful ways; fostering learning to grow a field; and influencing peers and policy through these supports.

Published: December 2014
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