Unlocking the Power of Collaboration

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August 02, 2016

Unlocking the Power of Collaboration

Kamil Cook of The Nature Conservancy highlights one example of her organization’s impact investing work as Henning Ringholz of GOAL looks on.

By Tom Dente

President and CEO InsideNGO

Coming off the InsideNGO Annual Conference, I’ve been thinking a lot about how the spirit of generosity contributes to unlocking the power of collaboration within our sector. For three days last month, many of us were deeply immersed in a generous, collaborative environment as more than 1,200 members of our community came together to learn from and engage with their peers, and to celebrate our commitment to operational excellence as we meet the opportunities ahead.

In a conference with so many highlights, one for me, personally, was moderating a panel on impacting investing with colleagues from GOAL, Mercy Corps, The Nature Conservancy, and Pact. As part of this discussion, the panelists showcased a newly published report: Amplify Impact Investing: The INGO Value Proposition for Impact Investing.” This publication—the contributions of time, knowledge, and effort of experienced NGO leaders and practitioners—resulted in a collaborative effort of benefit to our entire community.

The seed for the idea of this report was first planted in the fall of last year, when a handful of people whose organizations were doing impact investing work came together, with InsideNGO, to share their own experiences. This small group quickly realized that the more stories that were shared, the better, and each participant invited others to join the next meeting. Within a few months, the group, now known as the INGO Impact Investing Network, had grown to more than 40 members. And what they recognized was that there was a lack of a shared understanding—not only among themselves but across the impact investing ecosystem—of the level of activity, depth of experiences, and varied roles of INGOs in this arena.

And so between February 2016, when a survey of this group was launched, and July 2016, when the report was published, this new network came together to design and respond to a survey, publish the results, and write a report that is really the first look across the international NGO landscape on the growing area of impact investing, which has the power to advance the work of our sector in myriad ways. Already this work has been recognized by many prominent actors in the impact investing sector—groups like Accenture, the Calvert Foundation, the Omidyar Network, and OPIC, just to name a few—for the collaborative and collective approach that it has taken, an approach that is required in order to have a measurable impact on the world’s most pressing problems.

In The Paradox of Generosity, authors Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson write that “Generosity is paradoxical…Generosity does not usually work in simple, zero-sum, win-lose ways. The results of generosity are often instead unexpected, counterintuitive, win-win.” In our community – our essential community – we know we can do more, the more we are together. As we approach our 40th anniversary year in 2017, may we continue to discover the unexpected and the counterintuitive from the generosity of time, insight, and purpose that fuels the powerful, collaborative network that is InsideNGO.

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