Learning Lab: Impact Alliances (2021)

Finding Answers to Today’s Major Challenges Together

In November 2021, iac Berlin convened over 25 members of the Connecting Networks community in Vienna, Austria, for a Learning Lab on “Impact Alliances”. We see high potential in Impact Alliances to drive the substantial changes that are needed to address the complex, interconnected nature of today’s major challenges.

Impact Alliances unify cross-sectoral actors so that they can work together more strategically – creating shared visions, aligning activities, pooling resources, and more. They can start as impactful, coordinated collaborations that significantly enhance the ability of the alliance to make a far greater impact than if all the partners were to work alone. As the depth of the collaboration develops, an Impact Alliance can begin to frame complex challenges in a systemic perspective with the ultimate goal of pursuing systems change.

During the pandemic, we saw how quickly individuals can adapt the way they live, work, and connect with each other. Now it is time for foundations to do the same.

Theory meets practice

At the Learning Lab, we explored the concepts behind Impact Alliances, and then delved into practical cases to examine Impact Alliances in action. Throughout our time together, the following questions guided our way:

Key questions that guided our discussions included:

  • What is the added value of an Impact Alliance compared with traditional partnerships?
  • How do we prepare our organizations internally for an Impact Alliance?
  • How do we align cross-sectoral partners and initiate an Impact Alliance?
  • What structures are needed to bring about legitimate and effective outcomes?
  • How can we capture learnings and monitor impact?

We were joined by Tim Draimin of Community Foundations of Canada, who provided us with a theoretical background of Impact Alliances as well as concepts to help bring innovation and systems thinking into the core of foundations.

On top of this, Tim put together a commented reading list of 7 essential resources for all who are interested in building impactful partnerships and networks. Follow this link to download the PDF.

We then applied the theory to practice with case studies from the Connecting Networks community:

  • Tim Draimin shared his experiences with the Social Innovation Generation in Canada.
  • Annamária Toth and Vinzenz Himmighofen presented ANSTOSS DEMOKRATIE, an alliance of five foundations.
  • Maya Faerch and Luise Fischer introduced us to European Cities for Climate Neutral Construction, a joint initiative for carbon neutrality.
  • We also visited the House of Philanthropy and ran case clinics with Robin Gosejohann, Michael Hagemüller, and Christina Purrer, going in depth to explore solutions to challenges that they’re experiencing in their current projects.

Please find below the Learning Lab's aggregated learnings as well as theoretical backgrounds:

Do you want to learn more about Impact Alliances and how to implement their strengths? Or do you want to experience a Learning Lab with us as well?

Please contact:

Darius Polok