Movement Innovation Lab

 

We are excited to be launching the first ever Movements Innovation Lab! This will be a do-tank designed to help civil society organizations support, well, civil society more impactfully.

Our recent study shows that CSIs are failing to support the “informal,” grassroots actors who are increasingly dominating the civil society landscape. Yet, formal institutions are largely set up to only support more formalized groups.

The Movement Innovation Lab creates a collaborative space for organizations to better understand these new realities, how movements play a role and how they can best enable them to succeed.  

Key Elements

The Movement Innovation Lab will discover and illuminate best practices in movement-building, campaigning and digital strategies that will better situate CSOs to carry out their missions as guardians and promoters of civil society. Members will work together to bolster innovative campaign and movement work and strengthen networks. Together, we will create common infrastructure that closes the formal-informal gap in the following ways:

1.     Develop & Research Best Practices: Organizational members of the Lab will convene digitally and periodically in-person to share their work and learnings in implementing the Collective Civic Participation Framework (CCPF), a blueprint for NGOs to better support grassroots movements. As groups adapt CCPF principles, the Lab serves as a place to learn from one another and break out of inefficient silos.

In addition to sharing best practices, the Lab may conduct specific research to help better inform the work of its members. Members of the academic community will also be invited to participate, evaluate programs and even conduct associated research, which can contribute to the honing of best practice and strengthen current evidence in the field.

 

2.     Pilot CCP Initiatives and Develop a Community of Practice: CSOs will test and iterate the implementation of CCPF by piloting support of campaigns, movements and other promising initiatives and/or testing the integration of CCPF principles into their current programs. This includes innovating new technologies and mechanisms to better access existing technologies. Organizations may singularly pilot projects or find common cause and build collaborative projects with other groups. Through a community of practice, they can learn from and influence each other, connect and recognize common priorities, test new approaches.

Pilots inform new support models and begin to create a more coordinated, collaborative civil society “architecture of participation”. Each new pilot contributes to a deeper understanding of the CCPF. For example, a few organizations may identify a common need for an SMS technology that alerts their grassroots networks to funding opportunities. One organization may pilot a rapid response fund that quickly disburses funds to emergent campaigns. Another CSO may iterate a series of interventions that strengthen a global network of reproductive health activists over a twelve-month period.

 

3.     Share Capacities and Assets: Different CSIs bring unique experiences and capacities to their work. The Lab will create a space where organizations can offer up connections to a climate change network or the capacity to connect with local governments or a rapid response mechanism or use of a new technology. As different institutions find ways to support each other through existing capacities, they breakdown the silos that stifle their work. CSOs coordination also creates donor incentive to fund more collaborative approaches that uses resources more effectively and with less risk. This orientation towards shared capacities begins to situate organizations more as facilitators and connectors in service of grassroots work rather than the programmers or implementers.

 

Movement Innovation Fund

Members of the Lab will collectively support a Movement Innovation Fund, which will allow the Lab to support movements and campaigns outside of the specific needs of organizations. Funds may go to movements in the form of a challenge grant, rapid response support at key moments of mobilization or towards critical capacity support. Knowledge accumulated from this support will also be absorbed back into the lab and inform members’ work.

 

Structure & Membership

Organizations, foundations, academic institutions, individuals and other nongovernmental groups may become members of the Lab with an annual fee that will go to core operations and coordination. Funds for the Movement Innovation Fund will be raised separately, given the resource restrictions for many member groups. The Lab will be coordinated by Rhize and governed collectively by its members and a rotating steering committee that is representative of its membership.