A Case Study of the RE-AMP Energy Network

By Heather McLeod Grant / Winter 2011

For six years, the RE-AMP network—comprising 125 nonprofits and funders across eight states in the U.S.'s upper Midwest—has been focused on just one audacious goal: reducing regional global warming emissions 80 percent (from 2005 levels) by 2050. And it's working.

Much has been written about the power of networks to increase social impact. For nonprofits and funders that want to go deeper on the tactics of how to build an effective network, it is useful to understand how RE-AMP has done it. RE-AMP's process was well informed by decades of thinking related to systems dynamics and group facilitation. But what is new is the way in which RE-AMP combined these "best practices" with "next practices" to create a robust, resilient, and high-impact network.

The results speak for themselves. In just the past few years, the network has helped legislators pass energy efficiency policies in six states; promoted one of the most rigorous cap-and-trade programs in the nation; and, halted the development of 28 new coal plants. The network has also built the capacity of regional activists, increased funding for its cause, created a number of shared resources, and developed stronger relationships between funders and nonprofits.

Understanding just how RE-AMP accomplished this can give other groups interested in building a collective network to address a systems-level problem a roadmap to follow. During its two-month study of RE-AMP, Monitor Institute identified six key principles that RE-AMP members followed in building their network:

  •     Start by understanding the system you are trying to change.
  •     Involve both funders and nonprofits as equals from the outset.
  •     Design for a network, not an organization—and invest in collective infrastructure.
  •     Cultivate leadership at many levels.
  •     Create multiple opportunities to connect and communicate.
  •     Remain adaptive and emergent—and committed to a long-term vision.

See more at: http://www.monitorinstitute.com/what-we-think/transformer/#transformer

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