The Social Innovation Forum's mission is to create positive social change in Greater Boston. We do this by engaging leaders, strengthening organizations, and building networks. We describe our work as “a marketplace approach” to social change – one in which SIF engages diverse stakeholders in collaborating to accelerate purposeful, positive social change.
Five core values underpin SIF's work:
- Continuous learning
- Deep relationships
- Engaged community
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion
Founded in 2003 as a program of Root Cause, the Social Innovation Forum became an independent nonprofit organization in 2015. SIF has been running our flagship program, the Social Innovator Accelerator, since 2003.
In 2013, SIF began working in the field of impact investing. For four years, SIF ran a Social Business Accelerator to connect social impact business leaders with growth capital. The program offered mentoring from experienced business leaders and connections to prospective investors. Over its four-year history, the Social Business Accelerator worked with 24 businesses. In 2016, SIF ended the program, re-focusing its work on nonprofit organizations. SIF published a report, Insights into Impact Investing, in 2017 to share out the learning from the program.
In 2016, SIF piloted our first Capacity Camp program, a condensed version of the Accelerator. Capacity Camps allowed SIF to serve even more nonprofit organizations each year.
In 2017, SIF's Executive Director and Program Manager Anna Trieschmann contributed a chapter to Managing for Social Impact: Innovations in Responsible Enterprise. The chapter outlines SIF’s “marketplace approach.”
In 2017, SIF acquired another nonprofit organization, The Next Mile Project, and moved to a new headquarters. Founded by Vilas Dhar, Next Mile was an emergent and innovative philanthropic approach to nonprofit incubation and growth. Next Mile, a 501(c)3, curated and supported early stage social change organizations with seed philanthropic capital, a collaborative learning platform, subsidized offices and back end services - all structured to help nonprofits scale impact. With the acquisition, SIF added coworking to its program offerings, and half a dozen small nonprofits are currently members of the SIF coworking space.
In 2020, SIF launched an Alumni Program to provide ongoing support to organizations who had completed the Accelerator. SIF expanded this program to serve a wider range of nonprofits. Most program components are now available to any organization in SIF's network. This includes Accelerator and Capacity Camp Alumni, Accelerator finalists, and coworking members. The Nonprofit Network & Alumni Program continues to grow.
In 2020, SIF began to formalize its educational work with funders. The organization convened a funder advisory council and launched a series of learning sessions. The Funder Education Program continues to evolve to meet the needs of funders.
In 2021, SIF launched its first national program – CORE. CORE is a peer learning community of eight organizations from around the United States. Each of these organizations works at the intersection of funders and nonprofits to grow social impact in their region.