Seeking full blown romance

Without a drive and desire to make something happen - it won't. Romance, by which I mean desire and love, is what turns a good idea into a great one. It's one of the things that gets entrepreneurs up in the morning, its one of the parts of what makes people go above and beyond, particularly in the social impact sector.

Why am I looking for romance?

At Nesta we are running the Inclusive Economy Partnership innovation process with our partners in the Cabinet Office and DCMS. This, partnership accelerator is designed to use Nesta's resources to support social innovators and, more importantly, to support the scaling of these social innovations through building connections and partnerships with corporate and civil society organisations.

We see that by scaling the good work they currently do, we will develop a more inclusive economy that works for everyone. A big ambition.

To meet our ambitions, we will need more than partnership. A partnership can be deep, rewarding and fulfilling and, certainly, we have put in place a system and a process to support successful partnerships.  

We have the nuts and bolts right:

  • We have developed a series of activities and events with resources to support our social innovators to scale which we will tell you about over the next six months;
  • We have provided some funding for them to use to grow and;
  • We have the willingness of corporate and civil society partners to support these innovators at both staff and organisational level.

But to really crank these partnerships up and for them to be sustainable we also need the 'feels'; we need for our corporate partners to adore our social innovators and for our innovators to adore them back. We need our civil society partners to fall in love with engaging social innovators in their work and want to take practical action.

Over the next six months we will be working to test our model of partnership. The activities, actions and organisations involved and what role each part plays in getting to our outcome - effectively scaling social innovation.

There is plenty of advice and guidance as to how to form effective corporate/civil society partnerships and we know that successful partnerships start with some key things:

  • Clarity of goals and aims
  • Willingness to work together
  • Championship and ownership of outcomes
  • A stated or written commitment
  • Regular check ins and recommitment.

We will be testing these and also will be trying to find out how to get people to really want to work together to not just feel obliged to help and collaborate but to go above and beyond, to spoil each other - to show love and affection - Romance!

Real systems change can't happen alone, we know that working together is important but we also know it's hard, especially when it's cross sector.

Over the next few months, we will be writing about our successes and learnings and we will be trying to work out the best ways to ignite the romance between people and organisations in order to amplify action.

Our social innovators are looking for a relationship that lasts a long time. Watch this space - let's see if we can't make some romance blossom!

Share in the comments below your best resources for building partnerships and/or any hints and tips you have for creating cross sector romance. If you are shy you can email [email protected] - we would love to hear from you.


Kate Sutton

Kate Sutton

Kate Sutton

Head of Corporate Social Innovation

Kate was responsible for managing Nesta's Corporate Social Innovation and Inclusive Growth work

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