Collective impact is a structured approach that brings together different sectors for a common agenda to solve large, complex problems. The approach builds upon five interconnecting components that produce strong alignment and leads to powerful, large-scale results.
- Common agenda: All participants have a shared vision for change, including a common understanding of the problem and a joint approach to solving it through agreed-upon action.
- Shared measurement: Collecting data and measuring results consistently across all participants ensures that efforts remain aligned and participants hold each other accountable.
- Mutually reinforcing activities: Participant activities must be differentiated while still being coordinated through a mutually reinforcing plan of action.
- Continuous communication: Consistent and open communication is needed across the many players to build trust, assure mutual objectives, and create common motivation.
- Backbone support: Creating and managing collective impact requires dedicated staff with specific skills to coordinate participating organizations and agencies. The role of the backbone is:
– Guide vision and strategy
– Support aligned activities
– Establish shared measurement practices
– Build public will
– Advance policy
– Mobilize funding
Readiness for Collective Impact
Much of an initiative’s success is dependent on having the right conditions and context for the work. Three key pre-condition elements to help determine a group’s readiness to begin the robust process of collective impact include:
– Shared sense of urgency for addressing the issue in new and different ways
– Significant resources and attention have been/are secured; public and private funders willing to collaborate
– Trust among the diverse leaders and stakeholders necessary to solve the problem
Culture of Collective Impact
Collective impact efforts must be as rigorous about culture as they are about data and strategy if they wish to achieve enduring change. Principles and values that help create a greater culture for enduring collective impact success include:
– Being asset-based, engaging the community
– Commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion
– Building trust for collaboration
– Practicing continuous learning
– Holding integrity and accountability