Editor's Note: This article was written by Avery Pagán and Dan Schiff who are part of the Ashoka Support Network team. If you are curious to learn more about how business leaders can support social entrepreneurs read this article which first appeared on Forbes.com.
The success of the Ashoka Support Network (ASN) hinges on the idea that active philanthropy must include rigorous co-creation and idea exchange. ASN is a global community comprising hundreds of innovative leaders across 25 countries and a variety of professional sectors, all of whom have a vested interest in building changemaking capacity to address the world’s most pressing problems. They channel that interest into a regular commitment of time, expertise, and resources to Ashoka and Ashoka Fellows.
When joining the network, ASN members often find themselves at a pivotal moment in their careers, seeking a way to instrumentalize their business acumen for social impact. Being a part of ASN means aligning with Ashoka’s vision of a world in which everyone is a changemaker and furthering the work of Ashoka Fellows, the world’s leading social entrepreneurs. As global business evolves to engage and benefit more stakeholders, ASN members represent this new generation of socially conscious leaders.
In January 2015, the Ashoka Support Network Global team and our partners at CEB surveyed ASN members to assess the network’s strength and impact. The survey was designed to gather information on ASN demographics, trends in recruitment and activity, and the material impact of member contributions. About 42% of the network responded to the survey; results are highlighted below, and in our ASN Global Impact Handbook.
- Nearly one-third of ASN members work in financial services. This is a key resource to Ashoka Fellows, who increasingly seek hybrid financing opportunities to make their organizations financially sustainable.
- Personal relationships and word-of-mouth are essential to the expansion and longevity of ASN. The survey found that 38% of members were recruited by another ASN member and 32% were recruited by Ashoka staff. Further, every ASN member recruits on average at least one new member, underscoring the network’s multiplier effect.
- ASN members are highly dedicated and understand the long-term commitment necessary to achieve lasting social change. The survey respondents have spent 3.8 years on average as part of ASN, and 87% of respondents intend to renew their membership.
- Ashoka Fellows are driven by a vision to change the world, but often lack the connections or resources to make it reality. ASN members open doors that once seemed locked—in the preceding year, 65% advised Fellows on a business plan or strategy, 29% served on a Fellow’s advisory board, and 25% helped expand a Fellow’s network.
- The relationship between ASN and Ashoka Fellows is a two-way street; through these collaborations, ASN members realize shared value and gain empathic leadership skills. Ninety-one percent of ASN members interacted with an Ashoka Fellow in 2014, and 73% of all respondents rated their interactions with Fellows as “very valuable.”
The ASN Global team wishes to thank the Ashoka Support Network members and local staff for participating in the survey, as well as our partners at CEB for their generous support over the course of this project. We aim to continue providing critical insight and analysis into how ASN members are shaping an Everyone A Changemaker world. Learn about the work of ASN on Ashoka.org and visit the ASN Global web brochure for more information.