March 23, 2023

Knowledge Letter - March 2023 - Field Building for Equitable Systems Change

Insights for funders and field catalysts
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March 2023
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Knowledge Letter
Strategies for Social Impact

Funding Field Catalysts from Origins to Revolutionizing the World

By Lija McHugh Farnham, Emma Nothmann, Kevin Crouch, and Cora Daniels

Organizations we call "field catalysts" play a key role in driving systems change, harmonizing multifaceted work and serving as a kind of nerve center for the matrix of activity needed to transform our inequitably designed systems. But this crucial role often goes unnoticed.

We surveyed about 100 field catalysts and interviewed more than 40 leaders to learn what these social-change makers most need from funders to launch, thrive, and work toward equitable systems change.


Related content

Field Catalyst Origin Stories: Lessons for Systems-Change Leaders

In this companion article, a number of field catalysts share the challenges they've faced and the lessons they've learned in their work to create equitable systems.



Podcast: Dreaming in Color Season Two Launches

The second season of the Dreaming In Color podcast launches today! In this season, host Darren Isom speaks with eight brilliant leaders of color about how their professional journeys have been shaped by their personal and community identities, faith, motherhood, the arts, and more.

Today's episode features an interview with Dr. Simran Jeet Singh, a scholar, author, and champion of equity who leads Aspen Institute’s Religion & Society program. New episodes of Dreaming in Color’s second season will be released every Thursday for eight consecutive weeks. 

Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts:

Watch the season two trailer now.

Webinar: Lessons for Systems-Change Leaders

Population-level impact requires massive change to systems that perpetuate inequitable outcomes.

To achieve this impact requires the efforts of an often unseen—yet highly effective—type of intermediary that we call a “field catalyst.” Field catalysts work to harmonize myriad actors across a social-change movement to achieve a shared goal.

So what does it take to be a field catalyst? 

In this free webinar, we’ll:
  • Describe what field catalysts are and the unique role they play
  • Surface lessons and advice from field catalysts for fellow change makers
  • Share common challenges and ways to sidestep them

Please join us at one of two sessions, planned to accomodate those joining from different time zones:

More from Bridgespan


How to Create Enduring Social Impact

India's NGOs would benefit enormously from reserves and endowments that could translate to financial resilience, and much more significant impact.

Read on Forbes India >>

Giving Together to Address Gender Equality

Despite limited funding, gender equality-focused work is a vital force for change. 

Read on >>
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