Giving Compass' Take:

• The nonprofit Blue Ventures that rebuilds tropical fisheries shares five strategies in learning to scale impact for large conservation efforts. 

• How can donors help expand conservation planning and best support organizations? 

• Read more on how funders can support conservation. 

For many smaller nonprofits and social enterprises, innovation at scale is the holy grail. We spend countless hours obsessively developing, nurturing, and growing our ideas. We iterate them, refine them, prove some, and disprove others. We learn—later on than we really should—that innovation isn’t everything, that scale matters more. And we dream of going global, unleashing our game-changing solutions far and wide, disrupting markets, creating new value, and moving the needle on the problems we set out to solve.

When it comes to making these dreams a reality in the realm of conservation, conventional wisdom suggests two routes: scaling directly through incremental growth, or scaling indirectly through replication and partnership, ideally with a big international NGO, or BINGO. But while some social organizations have successfully trod these paths, decades of working in conservation alongside rural communities has shown us that both can be fraught with difficulty—and that a third way is possible.

Our nonprofit Blue Ventures works with coastal communities to rebuild tropical fisheries. Around a decade ago, we developed an effective innovation for marine conservation involving short-term closures of fishing grounds in Madagascar.

Along the way, we’ve struggled with finding the right partners, moving from implementation to training, and convincing skeptical donors, but the following five strategies have served us well.

  1. Identify the Right Partners and Get Out There
  2. Get Comfortable With Risk
  3. Customize and Champion
  4. Bring Partners Together
  5. Understand It’s Not Just About Conservation

Read the full article about conservation by Steve Rocliffe & Rupert Quinlan at Stanford Social Innovation Review.