Collective Impact is a process of structured collaboration for community change first identified by FSG, and first shared in the Winter 2011 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review. In this article, Kania and Kramer define Collective Impact as:
The commitment of a group of actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a complex social problem.
Collective Impact does not mean collaboration. It is, in fact, a very specific type of collaboration that requires 5 conditions to be met. Without any of these elements in place, a collaboration is not performing the Collective Impact process. FSG describes these conditions as:
- Common agenda - Collective impact requires all participants to have a shared vision for change, one that includes a common understanding of the problem and a joint approach to solving it through agreed upon actions.
- Shared measurement - Collecting data and measuring results consistently on a short list of indicators at the community level and across all participating organizations not only ensures that all efforts remain aligned, it also enables the participants to hold each other accountable and learn from each other’s successes and failures.
- Mutually reinforcing activities - Each participant in the collaborative undertakes a specific set of activities at which it excels, in a way that supports and is coordinated with the actions of others.
- Continuous communication - Regular meetings and other tech-based communications to develop a shared vocabulary, build trust, and ensures sustainable coordination of activities.
- Backbone organization - Creating and managing collective impact requires a separate organization and staff with a very specific set of skills to serve as the backbone for the entire initiative. Coordination takes time, and none of the participating organizations has any to spare. The expectation that collaboration can occur without a supporting infrastructure is one of the most frequent reasons why it fails. Nebraska Children acts as the backbone organization to its Community Prevention Systems.
At Nebraska Children, we bring the Collective Impact approach to the communities we work with, to build effective Community Prevention Systems. Beyond Collective Impact, we add some critical faciliation and funding elements so our communities are more likely to succeed.
Enhancing Collective Impact
The role of Nebraska Children in the Collective Impact process is a unique one. Yes, we perform the function of a backbone organization – coordinating the interactions between the collaborative partners. But we do more than that.
Nebraska Children funds Child Well-Being communities and conducts ongoing fundraising to ensure sustainability. This empowers the collaboration to focus on making permanent, positive change for children without worrying about fundraising.
While we do help communities structure their collaborations to align with the principles of Collective Impact, we also take it a step further. Nebraska Children facilitates the collaboration process – ensuring that every voice at the table is heard – and helps guide each community through the process of establishing a Community Prevention System.
When a community is ready to implement the recommendations of its Community Prevention System planning collaboration, Nebraska Children can provide valuable assistance on specific program launches, system restructuring and social marketing directed on changing community context for the better.