I sat down with Nick McGirl, Director at ChangemakerXchange to discuss some of their learnings and challenges. Most fascinating for me was how they managed to co-create their mission statement and purpose with members from across the globe!

In Brief

  • ChangemakerXchange
  • Co-created in partnership with Ashoka and Robert Bosch Stiftung
  • Members
    • 500 change makers
    • Ages 18-30
  • Team
    • 30 Global Facilitators (from community)
    • 6 Core Organizers
  • Locations: 4 regional implementing regions
    • Africa
    • Asia
    • Europe
    • Middle East

What is your community about?

  • We’re a collaboration platform for young social innovators, which aims to maximize their individual and collective impact on society.
  • Member Example: Milena from Berlin, who in her twenties started the world’s first zero waste supermarket in Kreuzberg Berlin, Original Unverpackt’ where all items are loose and organic, which means zero packaging.

“From Hero-preneur to impact-preneur”

What value does your community create

We try to help our members

  • encourage a more collaborative mind set and develop cross -border projects together
  • Share skills to maximise their impact
  • help them inspire other young people to become social change makers
  • Support them to prioritise their well-being and prevent burn out

How do you create this value?

  • All our member go on a 4 day collaborative intimate nature retreat with 25 other changemakers. It’s all very low-tech and participant-led to give everyone time to get to know each other and reflect.
  • A collaboration fund that members use to spread changemaking beyond tis group.
  • Peer Huddles: Online sessions on specific topics
  • Two yearly co-creation gathering to evolve the strategy and governance of the community (one virtual, one physical) Members also co-create changemakerXchange events, decide on our structure and model of the community
CXC’s Logic model that was co-created by the community.

What’s your success definition?

  • That’s part of number 6 of our Logic Model, essentially our members having more systemic and collective impact on society and being ambassadors for other young people to make a positive change.
  • How many meaningful collaborations the community creates
  • We run surveys to test the hypotheses in the logic model above to get quantitative but also qualitative feedback

Most memorable story, event or experience?

Our Co-creation Summit in Istanbul! We had 18 members in person, all from different countries and almost 100 members online collectively discussing, deciding and writing our internal and external purpose statement.

There was a lot of arguing about every word of the statement, but it was brilliant fun. It was also an incredibly liberating experience because the community suddenly had all the decision making power in such a direct way.

Most important rule

Celebrating diversity, and accepting others as people not as representatives of countries/ ideological viewpoints or even of their ventures.

What are your biggest challenges?

  • How can we walk the talk, and not be so focused on ourselves as a community and collaborate with other similar organizations to have larger scale systemic impact
  • Do we optimise for our internal or external purposes?
  • Scaling in a creative and decentralised way without losing our quality of experience

Who are your community role models or inspirations?

Looking back, as we didn’t exactly set out to build a community (rather just to bring brilliant people together and give them the space to create impact and cool stuff together) and it only became clear quite recently that that’s what we had done 🙂 I’m not sure we took direct inspiration from anyone in the design ( it all emerged quite organically and we were mostly inspired from our own members!) . We are big fans of Ashoka Globalizer for their knowledge work which shaped a lot of our thinking on systemic impact and also on the rural social innovation community Helga Breuninger Stiftung  in Paretz, Germany, who emphasise the role of Placemaking in community and made us realise the importance of hosting all our events in magical natural locations.

Business Model

Our core program and team is funded by the Robert Bosch Stiftung, our wonderful co-creation partners. Some summits have different partners.

What does your Minimum Viable Community look like?

The Community Canvas provided a great intuitive framework for both intentionally designing some aspects of the community direction as well structuring what had already organically emerged.

It has worked as an accessible codification on one page of what we are all about to our members and potential members, which we share across platforms.

It also helped to catalyse crucial community discussions around our internal and external purpose (before using the canvas we just had a classic vision and mission which didn’t really nail what we were about), which we then as a result co-created with 100+ members! This later led to discussions as to which (internal or external) we should optimise for, which has resulted in a critical shift in our strategic direction and to us becoming more and more community owned!

Thanks Nick!