How can funders encourage an ecosystem mindset?

This is another old post, that has been in drafts for *ages*, and certainly before I took on my role at the Big Lottery Fund. I started thinking about this whilst trying to raise money at Doteveryone, though it extends from my general belief and interest in how we can do more together than we can alone.

These days though, I’d say it isn’t a nice to have — we need to work much more effectively together to address the kinds of challenges we face. If you are wondering what an ecosystem mindset is, you could read my previous post.

This blog also links to my post on “Building The Field” where I make suggestions about how funders can be more proactive in field-building work. I wanted to extend the ideas in that post and think about the ways funders could encourage an ecosystem mindset in those they give funding to (as well as themselves, obviously!)

Below are my initial ideas (and thanks to Beatrice Pembroke and Abby Rose, whom I was away with this weekend, and contributed to this).

On the righthand side are the basic stages of a funding journey — in this instance a linear one, which I’m not sure is the most effective but is the most common.

On the lefthand side are some initial ideas of how to encourage an ecosystem mindset or behaviours at different parts of the funding journey.

A few other ideas I’m thinking about include where it makes sense to encourage more re-use and repurposing of what already exists. Maybe within the application process the applicant needs to show they’ve done research on what‘s out there. I think funders need to help with this though — perhaps even providing this kind of information when they do initial call outs for a funding programme.

The practice of re-use can also build relationships across an ecosystem.

I’m also interested in the role funders can play in “systems readiness” — ensuring things like the policy environment is ready to be receptive to new initiatives coming out of a programme, or that the public sector is primed to commission them. That’s another blog post.

Your input

In the meantime, for my Funding Enquiries 02, please could you fill in this form with suggestions of what to add in to the list above. What do you think funders can do to encourage an ecosystem mindset and behaviours?

Of course I will then update the list and share it through another blog post.