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Funding Systems Change: Challenges and Opportunities

Published Date: 6 April 2017

Many foundations across the world are increasingly interested in systems change. They understand that creating real and lasting change takes more than just grants and endowments. They recognize that they are not individual agents working alone to solve a discrete problem.

As part of the SIX Funders Node, we brought together 22 foundations and systems change experts in September 2016 for a retreat on Wasan Island, in the Muskoka region of Ontario, two hours north of Toronto. This was a pioneering group, leaders in their respective fields, some of whom were well-versed and established in systems change and others who were just beginning their journey. Despite coming from different countries and focus areas, the participants were united in their curiosity and desire to create systemic impact.

This report highlights the learning from our retreat on Wasan Island and is intended to help nurture the emerging community of foundations working in systems change by codifying and sharing examples and practices from the pioneers and early adopters of this approach.

We extend an invitation to others to join the community of foundations exploring systems change.

Like the design and facilitation of the Wasan Island retreat, this report is a collaboration; network experts Social Innovation Exchange (SIX) and Social Innovation Generation (SiG) have drawn on systems change experts, Anna Birney of Forum for the Future and Rachel Sinha of the Studio Systems Lab to synthesize the experience and our learning.

You can download the report here

If you're interested in finding out more about the SIX Funders Node, please contact

Tags: SIX, Finance