Social Issue Track Partnership

Social Issue Track Partnership

Social Issue Track Partners provide the foundational funding for SIF’s flagship Social Innovator Accelerator Program. In addition to financial support, Track Partners have opportunities to learn, engage, and participate actively in the selection process.

Benefits of Social Issue Track Partnership

As a Social Issue Track Partner, you are asked to provide a lead gift to sponsor a Social Issue Track of the Accelerator Program. Funding a Social Issue Track has many benefits, including a range of learning and networking opportunities. Social Issue Track Partners are able to:

  • Have an impact in the social change sector beyond giving dollars
  • Call attention to and learn more deeply about a range of social issues in Eastern Massachusetts and help promote proven solutions to the problem
  • Network with a range of business leaders, foundation representatives, and philanthropists at SIF events throughout the year, including the Warm Winter Welcome and the Showcase
  • Get access to SIF’s Funder Learning program which offers a range of ways for funders to learn, engage, and grow
  • Gain recognition as someone committed to spreading social innovation and advancing solutions to social problems
  • Participate in a collaborative funding experience that will multiply your per-dollar impact and provide guidance on complex decision-making processes
  • Learn about various nonprofit organizations doing important work in the issue area of interest
  • Build deep, long-lasting relationships with Social Innovators and finalist organizations
  • Get involved in SIF’s evaluation process, from reviewing applications to attending site visits, and assisting with the due diligence process. SIF has a range of ways to be actively involved and continue to grow your own learning
  • Join the broader philanthropic community at SIF

Three Models for Track Partnership 

SIF offers three models of Track Partnership, each of which offers funders different approaches to learning and collaboration. 

Traditional Track Process

Track Partners work with SIF and a number of issue experts to learn more about the social issue as a whole and what the potential solutions and best practices might be before SIF launches the application process. SIF Track Partners actively participate in the selection process, including reviewing applications and attending site visits. 

By staying involved throughout this process, Track Partners have the opportunity to learn about a range of approaches to the social issue, integrating expertise from those closest to the issues, as well as meet the leaders of some of the most effective organizations in the sector. Track Partners are also able to meet and network with other funders and stakeholders and engage in collaborative decision-making together with SIF and other evaluators. In this model, the funding partner and SIF staff together select the Innovator on the track, after integrating feedback from the evaluation committee.

Participatory Track Process

In 2021, SIF piloted a new iteration of the traditional Social Issue Track selection process, with a focus on participatory decision-making. SIF wanted to acknowledge and address the power dynamic in philanthropic relationships, and thus, they acted on the belief that people who are the most impacted by the issue should be making decisions about the solutions. 

Given the Track Partners’ financial support and commitment to learning, SIF hired six nonprofit consultants – leaders working at alumni Innovator organizations – to hold decision-making power throughout the process. Moving beyond the pilot stage, SIF now seeks to integrate at least two participatory selection tracks into the annual selection process.

In the participatory track model, Track Partners will work together with three to four nonprofit consultants, hired by SIF, to devise a track topic and identify key characteristics to look for in applicants. Throughout the evaluation process, Track Partners will be encouraged to read applications, ask questions, participate in discussions, and learn from and alongside the consultants, who bring deep subject matter expertise as well as experience leading grassroots organizations. This model is a great option for funders interested in exploring participatory models of philanthropy and who are ready to try ceding decision-making power to those closest to the issues.

Collaborative Track Process

The driving force behind SIF’s work is to build and facilitate meaningful, long-lasting connections between funders and nonprofit organizations founded on equity, trust, and intentional collaboration. This means identifying ways in which SIF can improve on existing practices and processes to be more equitable and inclusive. 

SIF piloted a selection process in 2023 that prioritized cross-sector collaboration, continuous learning, and collective decision-making. SIF invited three Track Partners and hired four nonprofit consultants to work with SIF as partners to collectively and jointly move through the selection process. In this model, a track is built around a broader topical area (e.g. youth & education) and three Social Innovators working in that area are ultimately selected for the Accelerator. SIF is continuing in 2024 with a second year of this pilot initiative. This model gives funding partners an opportunity to make decisions with and learn from other funders as well as nonprofit leaders with expertise in both subject matter and leading grassroots organizations.

Becoming a Social Issue Track Funder: Investment Required 

The eight Track Partners each year provide foundational financial support for SIF’s flagship program, a 24-month Accelerator, which then transitions into long-term ongoing technical assistance and other support once Social Innovators become alumni. For a more detailed breakdown of benefits and costs of Track Partnership, please download the Track Partnership Overview

Interested in Learning More? 

The SIF team would be delighted to meet with funders interested in learning more about track partnership models. Please contact for more information or to set up a meeting.