Key Points

· The Brico Fund set out to test a common nonprofit theory of change: individual outputs lead to outcomes, leading to systems change. An alternate theory is that systems change happens through collective and strategic action of many organizations working together toward a common goal.

· This case study examines the implementation of this theory and describes the companion development of systems, structures, tools, and processes created in a cross-sector network of nonprofits. The evolution of Brico’s funding strategy is juxtaposed with the development of the network, revealing a unique funder/organization symbiosis, relying on each to provide expertise, thus fostering achievement of both their individual and mutual goals.

· Brico has six years of experience, testing, evaluation, and impact that demonstrates collective action is more effective. The metamorphosis resulting from putting theory into practice is changing the local nonprofit community. For grantmakers interested in leading in a different way, key learnings are shared.

Open Access