Equitable Capacity Building: Organizational Learning & Equitable Evaluation

Social Impact Exchange (SIE)
Funder: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 
Project Time Period: 2014-2015

Project Category: Formative Evaluation/Nonprofit Growth and Scaling

About SIE: For this evaluation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation was interested in documenting the successes and challenges of the Social Impact Exchange (SIE). SIE operates under the assumption that there are, in fact, solutions to the disparities faced by individuals from low-income communities, and that if these solutions can be scaled, the social sector, collectively, will achieve greater and more meaningful impact. SIE’s approach has been to create a platform upon which a marketplace for scaling efforts can be built and has developed multiple strategies within this platform to grow scaling efforts.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation invested in the development and implementation of the SIE in an effort to support the expansion of organizations with proven track records in addressing pressing social needs.                

The Work: MAI conducted 34 interviews with key stakeholders, including leaders in the nonprofit sector. The resulting analysis provided information for the final assessment of the initiative. The goal of our review was to identify SIE’s key successes and challenges, in order to inform RWJF’s strategy and SIE’s implementation. We focused on a subset of SIE’s activities SIE thought to be most pertinent to the goal of creating a scaling marketplace, but also gathered information about interviewees perceptions of SIE’s overall strategy as well as SIE’s specific activities.  

What We Learned: We learned that SIE stakeholders see a continued need for an entity like SIE and overwhelmingly expressed enthusiasm about the issue SIE was aiming to address. SIE has achieved some important milestones that validate their progress in creating systems change within the social program funding system. Although systems change takes considerable time to create long-lasting impacts, SIE has worked to break down silos by regularly convening funder representatives from the largest Foundations and having them collaborate to co-fund internally nominated nonprofit organizations that have made it through their rigorous Due Diligence process and are deemed worthy-to-scale.