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This is the person who “holds the whole,” acting as the hub that participants reach out to ask questions, share concerns, and report progress. He or she has a finger on the pulse of all of the network’s activities, and is typically at least involved in strategic discussions, if not an active contributor.
To play or not to play: Whether it makes sense for a funder to play this role is highly dependent on the network’s stage of development. In the early stages (Discover, Know, and Knit), this role will typically overlap with that of weaving the network, since it will be focused primarily on building members’ relationships with one another and building their comfort with the collective approach. In those stages, this is likely a role that a funder is well-positioned to play. In later stages (Organize, Grow, and Transform), this role will likely require a greater focus on managing and monitoring the network’s various projects in order to ensure that different groups are learning from one another and working in concert. At that point, it demands significant time investment, and depending on the amount of collective activity the network is undertaking, this may even become a full- or part-time staff position.