What does it take to solve the big problems? How do we move from temporary fixes to real solutions?
You can’t do it alone. It takes a community of thinkers, doers and donors.
It takes an ecosystem.
I’ve been thinking a lot about ecosystems. It’s actually entrepreneurial ecosystems (more on them later) that got me started. From there I went way back to basic biology and the interdependence of organisms and their physical environment.
Nonprofits know a lot about interdependence. Your organization exists as part of a community, you are able to provide services because you have a board, receive donations, contract with the government etc. But I’d like to take it a step further with the concept of a Vision Ecosystem. Mapping out this ecosystem offers surprises and possibilities and gives you a game plan for moving forward to solve the problem your organization was created to address.
Your Vision Ecosystem is made up of everyone who shares your vision.
The discovery of who that is starts with a simple question you ask yourself:
Who else cares about what we care about?
You may be able to come up with a quick list right now. But, you want to go deeper. The real benefit will come when you explore and discover your real purpose and the – surprising – potential partners you have in your quest.
When you’ve done the exercise you will have a valuable list of people, other organizations, corporations, foundations, government agencies, entrepreneurs and social enterprises. You will know who else shares your vision. Gaining this knowledge is the first step towards looking for real solutions.
Once you’ve identified your ecosystem you will have resources that you didn’t know existed before.
Let’s get started.
- What is your vision? Don’t confuse this with your mission. Vision is the big-picture view you have of a better world. When you discover the answer to the question, “What would the world look like if our work was done?” you’ll have the answer.
- Same vision different mission. The goal is to discover who shares your vision. This opens up lots of possibilities for collaboration, funding, initiatives, volunteers and more. The key is to be open-minded and look beyond the expected.
- Create your list. Get your team together and begin exploring the possibilities. The more you look, the more potential partners you will find.