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Taking Collective Impact to the Next Level

FSG released its newest article around the concept of collective impact, Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact Work a few weeks ago, and we have already seen a remarkable uptake of the article and the concepts outlined in the article. The field is thirsty to learn more about HOW to truly make collective impact work.

FSG's first collective impact article, touched upon what collective impact is, while this follow up article takes an in-depth look at how organizations of all types can go about implementing a collective impact approach to solve large-scale social problems.

Featured in the article is thinking around how to awaken the power of collective impact, through several preconditions. The article discusses three phases for bringing collective impact to life:

  • Phase 1: Initiating Action
  • Phase 2: Organizing for Impact
  • Phase 3: Sustaining Action

The article provides guidance on steps to take for achieving one of the hardest parts of collective impact: agreeing on a common agenda. The article also touches upon the importance of shared measurement including the design of shared metrics and the importance of participants to gather regularly to share results, learn from each other, and refine their individual and collective work based on their learning.

Also featured in the article is thinking around the key functions and structures of a backbone organization, and a discussion around cascading levels of linked collaboration—the structure through which the steering committee, the backbone organization, and the working groups made up of partners all work together to achieve the goals of the common agenda.

Finally, the article remind us of the intangible elements of collective impact: trust, learning, FOOD, and hope. The “how-to’s” in the article have been implemented by many organizations across all types of issues and geographies; many have been able to awaken collective impact, build on it, and sustain it to achieve great results.

Several other organizations in the field are also sharing their own tools around collective impact:

We encourage questions from the field on these concepts, and others not covered in the article—we look forward to continuing to learn about many more examples of collective impact and continuing to build on the knowledge around this fundamentally different approach to achieving large-scale social impact! How are you engaging in collective impact in 2012?