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Forging Ahead with Collective Impact in 2012

Posted by: John Kania on 1/19/2012

Last fall I launched the Collective Impact blog, and as we enter 2012, I can’t help but be inspired and invigorated by all the thinking, writing, doing, and learning that has happened since then.

As a firm, we’ve been working with a range of foundation, government, and nonprofit clients as they create their own collective impact approaches to community challenges, supporting cradle to career education reform in the Pacific Northwest, tackling youth substance abuse in Staten Island, and facilitating juvenile justice reform in New York.

In addition, we’ve hosted several webinars on key topics, hearing from FSG staff and great guest speakers on their experiences in Collective Impact, and particularly Shared Measurement. FSG hit the road and shared CI in locations from Cartagena, Colombia and the White House Council for Community Solutions. We heard from field experts at a conference co-hosted with the Stanford Social Innovation Review, including Diana Aviv and Sterling Speirn.

Based on this client work, our speaking engagements, research and writing in the field, we are preparing a rich base of tactics around backbone creation, shared measurement, and other implementation issues. We are constantly seeking ways to build and refine these ideas, with the ultimate goal of generating greater social impact.

We have also been studying the landscape nationwide and around the globe, identifying and analyzing examples of collective impact in issues as diverse as homelessness and global hunger. Our learning agenda for this year is not just driven by FSG’s interests, but our client needs and the interest in the field among funders and practitioners for a deeper and richer understanding of the power of CI.

Here are just a few of the questions we seek to answer in the year ahead:

  • What do communities need to know and do to be ready to implement a collective impact approach?
  • Where should the backbone functions sit? How can we transition into implementation and empower staff quickly while maintaining strategic focus?
  • How can we introduce the rigor of shared measurement and continuous improvement to collective impact approaches, while being mindful of scarce resources?
  • We continue to research collective impact around the world, in both developed and developing countries. In which contexts and organizations have you seen this approach? What can we learn?
Stay tuned for new thinking from FSG on these topics and others in 2012, including webinars, blogging, and a new article with Collective Impact 2.0 learning. What are you eager to learn in the year ahead? Please do tell us! This blog continues to provide a space for thinking out loud, for conversation and critique, and above all, for mutual learning to drive collective impact in your community and beyond.

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Brian Cockman
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Look forward to hearing more from you, John, and on the concept of collective impact. An educational initiative in our community, AchieveGuilford, is using this idea as the basis for its programming. Check us out at if you're interested in learning more. All the best to you and your team!
FSG Social Impact
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Many thanks, Brian. Our team is looking forward to learning more.

Joneil C.
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Hi John, I attended the March 2011 conference with other Seattle SVP'ers. Kudos on your continued good work and for keeping us inspired in the field.

Please note the Oakland Unified School District is using elements of Collective Impact to align our limited resources in different sectors to improve the graduation rate of our students. I look forward to staying connected and learning/sharing best practices as we continue to make a positive impact.
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