Back in December 2012 I was really interested to read Alliance‘s issue on Networks and Philanthropy and see the suggestion that membership associations need to be open to working with other existing networks and entities to become successful. Working for the international Social Impact Analysts Association (SIAA) has given me first-hand insight into the power of working in partnership with in-country networks to support and inspire positive change.
On an individual level it is interesting to reflect on how each of us builds our own personal and professional networks. Whether it is through school, family, university or the workplace, our networks have a profound effect on our successes and how we lead our lives.
It is easy to see how many of us can take these networks for granted. Over time we naturally build up a network of friends or colleagues who we can turn to for advice and support. This can help us to improve our work and become more efficient, even if it is just by providing a bit of reassurance over an after-work drink. However, what if you work in a relatively isolated role and in a rapidly changing field, say as a social impact analyst? Who do you talk to? Where do you seek advice and feedback?
It is because of this growing need that SIAA was established in 2011. Since late 2012 it has been working to establish country- and regional-level impact groups in Europe and further afield.
The aim of an SIAA Impact Group is to build a regional and language-specific group for professionals engaged in social impact analysis. The groups will provide a forum for peer support and networking through meetings, events and online communications.
We also hope that the development of such groups will provide a platform for analysts collectively to approach sector leaders and decision-makers about how organisations can use analysis to become more effective and make better decisions with the scarce resources they have.
Impact groups have been developed through working with in-country partners or ‘local champions’ such as existing professional networks, civil society foundations and expert social impact professionals. The aim is to use existing networks with an interest in this area to make sure the group is relevant for existing and aspiring in-country professionals.
SIAA hopes that impact groups will support analysts locally to share knowledge, but also allow them to connect to a growing international movement of professionals who are passionate about the use of analysis to create positive change.
SIAA launched the first Austria Impact Group in November 2012. Three new country Impact Groups will be launched in Estonia, Bulgaria and Hungary during May and June 2013, with more in the pipeline for late 2013 and 2014. Get in touch with SIAA via firstname.lastname@example.org
Ruth Whateley is manager of the Social Impact Analysts Association (SIAA)