What does it take to scale social impact? That’s one of the fundamental questions for social entrepreneurs anywhere. As they seek to create solutions to widespread, seemingly intractable problems, such as poverty and climate change, answering this question is as urgent as ever.
Scale, of course, is about more than growing an organization’s size, it’s about growing impact beyond an organization’s own footprint through creative cross-sector collaboration. The path to scale is often not linear and requires flexibility. Some social entrepreneurs even describe their path to scale as “zig-zaggy.”
To inform the actions of social entrepreneurs and the strategies of funders who support them, the Innovation Investment Alliance—a funding and learning partnership between the Skoll Foundation and USAID’s Global Development Lab, with support from Mercy Corps—and CASE at Duke University launched the Scaling Pathways series to gather lessons from the frontlines of change.
The series explores strategies that leading social enterprises have taken to scale their social impact. What were their scaling tactics? What were their biggest surprises and pivots? What can we learn from their successes—and failures—along the way?
The series includes Pivoting to Impact, a report that distills critical lessons learned that cut across geographies and sectors and provides information vital to enterprises and funders trying to unlock impact at scale. Key themes explored in the piece include: securing people and systems critical for scale, incorporating metrics, the importance of adaptation, the value of creative partnerships, and the importance of zooming out of day-to-day operations to take a bird’s eye view of the ecosystem and emerging opportunities.