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Solutions that scale successfully hit the sweet spot between value, impact, and sustainability. In the social impact sector, we tend to think about and prioritise impact, but we sometimes forget about value and sustainability.

To reach the sweet spot of creating impact at scale, we need to be thinking about these three lenses at the same time. If we miss one, we could have a great solution that reaches few people because it’s not sustainable. Or a solution that reaches many but doesn’t have much impact. 

So as you prepare to get your solution scale ready, think critically about these three lenses and how it applies to your solution. Both in terms of where you are now and where you want to be.



Step 1

Starting with impact, ask yourself:

  • Does the solution meet its intended impact and actually make people’s lives better?
  • Does it make a meaningful and equitable contribution to addressing the societal problem at scale?
  • Has this been validated? 


Step 2

Moving on to value, do people actually want and demand the solution? Do they engage with it over time?

Even if the solution works from an impact perspective, if the people who are experiencing the problem you’re looking to solve don’t value it, they will not actually demand it, show up or engage with it over time.

For most solutions, there are other key stakeholders besides the user who also need to value the solution in order for it to be successful over time. For instance, perhaps the users of your service get referred to you by local hospitals. That means that the hospital partners as well as users themselves need to see the value in the service.

Consider if other key stakeholders value your solution enough to engage with it over time.


Step 3

Finally, the sustainability of a solution is critical to scale. You need to understand what the costs are and where the resources are going to come from to cover these costs.

If your solution is not sustainable at a small scale this will be an even bigger problem at a large scale. You’re much more likely to be successful if you’re breaking even and if you don’t have to continuously stop and start because of fundraising cycles. 


Step 4

Now take a step back and consider:

  • Where do the biggest challenges arise for you in finding the sweet spot for scale?
  • What do you need to prioritise improving in order to improve your scale readiness? 

Step 5

Think about whether this approach is different to how scale is perceived in the sector or in your organisation. What are some of the barriers you might face when working to improve your scalability? How might you overcome these challenges?


Do this exercise with your team and/or stakeholders! Show them the Value, Impact, and Sustainability framework and questions to reflect on individually. Then come together as a team and discuss where you are now and what you need to prioritise in order to improve your scale potential.


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