Leveraging Partnerships to Improve Community Outcomes: Collective Impact

Implementing Collective Impact

**Collective Impact Forum. (n.d.). Collective impact principles of practice. Available at https://collectiveimpactforum.org/sites/default/files/Collective%20Impact%20Principles%20of%20Practice.pdf

Practitioners who are implementing collective impact in the field contributed to and informed this set of eight principles for putting collective impact into action: (1) designing and implementing collective impact initiatives with a focus on equity; (2) the inclusion of community members in the collaborative, (3) recruitment and co-creation with cross-sector partners,  including decision-making; (4) the use of data to continuously learn, adapt, and evolve the work; (5) the cultivation of leaders with unique system leadership skills; (6) a focus on program and system strategies; (7) the development of a culture that fosters relationships, trust, and respect across participants—often facilitated by effective leaders; and (8) customization towards the local context. Together, these principles provide the necessary tools to support a community in ways that best serve the local context and beyond. The document closes by summarizing the list of five conditions of collective impact identified in a 2011 article by Kania and Kramer that should anchor a collective impact effort.

**Hanleybrown, F., Kania, J., Kramer, M. (2012). Channeling change: Making collective impact work. Stanford Social Innovation Review, January 26, 2012. Available at https://ssir.org/articles/entry/channeling_change_making_collective_impact_work

The authors build on their 2011 article on collective impact by exploring how to begin and sustain an effective collective impact practice. They state that three preconditions must be in place in order for set the stage for a successful collective impact effort: (1) an influential champion that brings other leaders to the table, (2) adequate financial resources to support the long term mission of the collective impact effort, and (3) urgency for change related to the problem at hand. The article then situates collective impact within three phases: (1) initiating action, during which the goal is to understand who is already involved and what the baseline data is; (2) organizing for impact, when common goals, measures, and supporting structures are developed; and (3) sustaining action, during which stakeholders establish a cycle of continuous improvement. The authors offer several further considerations for those interested in collective impact. For example, because collective impact takes a long time and depends heavily on functional relationships, it may be useful to leverage existing collaborative efforts. They also note that “strategic action frameworks are not static” and stress that boundaries and strategies will appropriately change as the effort develops. 

Le, V. (2015, November 29). Why communities of color are getting frustrated with collective impact [Blog post]. Available at http://nonprofitwithballs.com/2015/11/why-communities-of-color-are-getting-frustrated-with-collective-impact/

The author of this blog post shares some of his mixed experiences and specific concerns with collective impact in an effort to help others avoid some common problems. In Le’s experience, collective impact can be another form of “grasstops” organizing (instead of grassroots) that is distant from—and perhaps irrelevant to—the populations it is trying to serve. While he recognizes value in sharing resources and information to achieve a common goal, he wonders if this is an example of groups with power taking something that marginalized populations have been doing, naming it something new, and taking credit for discovering it or bringing it to scale. Additionally, Le writes that the collective impact work in his community has become such a powerful force that others who question or are critical of their work sometimes risk losing resources and support from their constituents. He emphasizes that this may not be true of all collective impact work, but cautions against others following in the footsteps of what he has seen so far. The author closes with advice for backbone organizations, funders, and community organizers to reflect on their practices and listen to critical feedback from diverse perspectives.

Giloth, R. P., Hayes, G., & Libby, K. (2014). Laying the groundwork for collective impact: A working paper: Early-stage advice for multisector collaborations. Annie E. Casey Foundation. Available at http://www.aecf.org/m/resourcedoc/aecf-LayingtheGroundworkforCollectiveImpact-2014.pdf

Drawing on a literature review and interviews, the authors of this article gather advice and lessons learned for those in the early stages of collective impact work. They stress that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach, but that there are general ground rules that will increase any effort’s chance for success. Setting the stage for success begins by building key capacities. Among the key early components are enlisting the right people, building trust between and within groups, conveying a sense of urgency, focusing on data and results, and committing to the long-term effort. They further outline the most important considerations for identifying champions and other partners, for building backbone partnerships, data collection, community engagement, promoting equity, and building momentum. Additionally, the authors underline the importance of making and learning from mistakes.