Key Points

· Foundations and other funders can use life cycle analysis tools to determine a nonprofit network’s stage of development and functional characteristics as a precursor to funding network activities. Characteristics that determine a network’s readiness for funding include network cohesion (trust and communication), cooperation (mutual purpose and goals), and capacity for externally focused action.

· Network Mindset Survey analysis can help determine a network’s readiness for funding by measuring members’ understanding of the power and utility of networks; degree of membership engagement; identification of specific, common concerns; and readiness for productive action.

· Three networks that received foundation support for networking principles, mapping, and mindset were analyzed using the Network Mindset Survey tool and were found to be at different functional phases. Analyses assisted in providing next-steps recommendations that were appropriate to the life cycle phase of each network.

· Network Sustainability Survey analysis helped to determine the ability of trained “network weavers” to advance network interests and foster members’ efforts. Network weaver responses to the Network Sustainability Survey tool helped to provide recommendations for increased network development and sustainability.

· The inquiries and analyses generated by this study provide insights for foundations and other funders that are interested in establishing, supporting, and expanding community improvements through the synergy of networks.

Open Access