Social Innovator Accelerator

Application cycle starts June 2024

Social Innovator Accelerator

The Social Innovation Forum's flagship program, the Social Innovator Accelerator, provides a unique opportunity for innovative nonprofits to gain visibility, expand their networks, and build capacity. 

Each year, the Social Innovation Forum uses an evaluation and selection process to identify a cohort of impactful grassroots nonprofits. Our six-month process brings together a range of stakeholders, including past SIF innovators, issue area experts, SIF staff, funding partners, and an evaluation committee made up of more than 50 nonprofit leaders, business owners, government leaders, and foundation staff. Once selected into the Accelerator program as “Social Innovators,” organizations receive access to financial support as well as other in-kind resources and services. Read more below about our benefits to Social Innovators and eligibility requirements. 

Each Social Innovator receives access to the following resources and services: 

  • Six months of consulting services focused on enhancing the organization’s ability to articulate the social problem it is addressing, its innovative approach, and its social impact. The consulting engagement culminates in the development of the following materials designed for funder/investor audiences:
    • Written investment prospectus
    • Five-minute pitch (with PowerPoint slides)
    • Model Graphic - tool used to illustrate programming 
  • Graphic design services and presentation coaching
  • An opportunity to connect with investors and funders by presenting the work of the organization at the annual Social Innovator Showcase - to be held in May 2024 for this cohort
  • Opportunity to be in a cohort of grassroots nonprofit leaders with diverse experiences, working in different social issue areas in Eastern MA 
  • Networking and relationship-building support to expand organization’s access to external funding and support
  • Five months of executive coaching to focus on promoting professional growth for the leadership team
  • $30,000 cash upon completion of the consulting engagement
  • Additional support from SIF’s in-kind partners (e.g., legal, graphic design, PR, technology)
  • Ongoing support through the Social Innovator Accelerator Alumni program

Eligibility Requirements

The Social Innovation Forum’s nonprofit tracks are open to programs and organizations that:

  • Are a registered 501(c)(3) or use a fiscal agent that is a 501(c)(3)
  • Address a specific social need as described in at least one of our social issue tracks and bring their own perspective and innovation to the topic
  • Are working in Eastern Massachusetts, unless otherwise noted in the track description. We define Eastern MA broadly. In the past, we’ve worked with organizations in surrounding cities like Worcester, Lowell, Lawrence, New Bedford and Fall River.
  • Have been delivering programs or services for at least 3 years
  • Have a minimum of 1.5 paid FTEs (full-time equivalents—counting full and part-time staff, not volunteers)
  • Have an annual operating budget of $100,000–$2 million

Social Innovator Profile

We refer to organizations that are selected to and go through the Accelerator program as “Social Innovators.” Typically a strong Social Innovator applicant:

  • Uses an innovative approach. As we define it at the Social Innovation Forum, social innovation is the process of finding, testing, and honing impactful and potentially transformative approaches that are responsive to the needs of community members, disrupt systems, and bring about systemic change.
  • Has a long-term vision and has goals, ideas, and/or plans for moving toward its long-term vision.
  • Is at a point in its trajectory where it is seeking to engage in capacity building to deepen, shift, and/or expand its work and has interest and capacity to participate in the Accelerator program.
  • Works collaboratively with community partners and stakeholders
  • Engages in reflection and continuous quality improvement.
  • Leadership and decision-making reflect and are accountable to the community served.
  • Leaders are open to new ideas and coaching.
  • Has or is working towards having a fundraising strategy and has the organizational capacity to take advantage of SIF’s fundraising supports, including network-building.

Who Would be Involved?

  • 1 “lead” Innovator (typically Executive Director or Program Director)
  • Optional: 1-3 other staff to support decision-making on materials and participate in executive coaching