Do's and Don'ts

Sustainable Networks dos and dont’s

Sustainable Networks Dos and Don’ts

  • Do stay flexible. Change Networks respond to the environment around them and are co-produced with communities, which means they need to remain responsive. Our group described the ideal network as amoebic - it flexes and changes to stay alive. However, the values of the network need to be stable and unchanging.

  • Don’t rely too heavily on key members. Our group spoke about the pressures of feeling singly responsible for the success of a group and the risks of that. Some projects also lost key members of their network through the course of their funding, leading to challenges and a loss of momentum. Sharing responsibility and building capacity of network members throughout can help make the network more sustainable.

  • Do invest in people. People continue to invest and participate in change processes when they feel fulfilled by the process. Supporting people to learn new things and develop in their role means they feel invested in.

  • Don’t underestimate the challenges of transient groups. Learning from projects who worked with transient groups (students, the prison population) showed that sustainability was a challenge to achieve and measure. Sometimes, more time is needed for recruiting and retaining network members. However, we also saw this as a strength as new and diverse voices are included.

  • Do dream. We felt that the nature of short term funding and a drive towards measuring concrete outcomes could draw away from what drives people and their vision.

  • Don’t rush. There is a fundamental incompatibility between taking a sustainable approach to change, and one-year funding. Across all existing Change Networks, there was an emphasis on building relationships and connections being vital to sustainability, but impossible in a short period of time.

  • Do identify what you need to sustain your network. Sustainability cannot always rely on enthusiasm of network members, but may need resources to maintain momentum. This might be in terms of new membership, money, admin support or space.