Monday, October 6, 2014

Network-Centric Advocacy: Strategy in the Age of Connectivity

Netcentric, advocacy, strategy, network theory
Image: Flickr | jairoagua
Netcentric Campaigns transforms advocacy for foundations and nonprofits by building networks of people to move change forward. That’s a fantastic tagline, but what does it really mean? And why networks?

As Margaret Mead once famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” 

In essence, she was describing advocacy movements, where ordinary people come together for an extraordinary cause.

There are many types of movements in the advocacy world. Leader-centric movements are driven by individuals like Mahatma Gandhi or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Others could be classified as organization-centric movements, led by nonprofits, labor unions or advocacy groups.

Then you have network-centric movements. This is where Netcentric sees the most value and the best chance to move change forward. But why?

Too often, movements are fractured. This means that there are many people or organizations working on a common cause, but not working together. In some cases, that even means that their efforts are overshadowing or even harming efforts of others working toward the same goal. Essentially, they’re working against each other.

The most complex issues don’t get solved when one group succeeds, but when all of them do. In a society with many leaders and new groups emerging, foundations and nonprofits need “all of them succeed” strategies.

The question is whether the sum of all this fractured activity will be more or less than the sum of its many, unorganized parts.

The future of movements will not be driven by any one person or organization, but instead by leaders and advocates working to build and tap into high-capacity advocacy networks, where valuable resources can move quickly to meet the needs of the people in the network.

By investing in these leaders and advocates and encouraging them to leverage a strong network of people working toward the same cause, we strengthen the ability to move change forward.

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