The FSG team and our colleagues at nonprofits and foundations around the country have been thinking quite a bit about collective impact this year. Here is a recap of key posts you may have missed prior to the launch of the Collective Impact blog…Let’s keep the conversation going into 2012!
I recently came across an African proverb: “If you want to go fast, you go alone. If you want to go far, you go together.” For the last six months, FSG has been working with stakeholders from around New York State and around the juvenile justice system in a collective impact effort aimed at developing a shared vision, goals, and strategies for reform. Given that we’ve been so immersed in this effort, upon reading this proverb, my thoughts immediately went to (what else?!) juvenile justice reform.
It’s been almost a month since FSG held its collective impact conference with Stanford Social Innovation Review in California…A month is also typically about the time that the energy and momentum of a conference can wane. The excitement, promises, new calls to action, the connections made and conversations started begin to fade into the weave of our busy lives, pressing demands and deadlines, other imperatives, and new opportunities on which to focus. But not so with collective impact.
Kania and Kramer’s latest piece in the Stanford Social Innovation Review is a great addition to understanding what works in the field of philanthropy. For the last four years, I have been working as a “place & issue-based” funder, rather than an “issue & approach” funder, and it has changed my view of much of what they have written. I suggest taking their ideas several steps further.
A headline in last week’s Boston Globe caught my eye: “Gathering of Captains to Ponder Civic Woes.” The story describes how 50 or so business, civic, and political leaders plan to gather at a wooded retreat to discuss tough social issues facing the state of Massachusetts. But will anything come out of this so-called Commonwealth Summit? Will solutions to rising health care costs, state budget deficits, and job losses emerge?
In Malcolm Gladwell’s recent New Yorker article, “Small Change,” Gladwell suggests that true social change comes from a structured effort in which a central body creates strong connections with a network of change agents who are deeply committed to a cause, and not by individual or loose social movements in which people connect through weak ties. Gladwell makes the case that effective social change movements must be backed with a calculated and intentional strategy that creates aligned action among the players. While social networks today have the potential to mobilize people – those with weak ties to a cause who simply tweet their support will never create meaningful and lasting impact.