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Stanford Social Innovation Review | January 2012

A follow-up to FSG’s original 2011 Stanford Social Innovation Review article, “Collective Impact,” this article highlights new examples of collective impact initiatives and provides more guidance for those who seek to initiate and lead collective impact initiatives. This article appeared on It is available in French and Spanish. 

Top Takeaways

  1. Three conditions must be in place before launching a collective impact initiative: an influential champion, adequate financial resources, and a sense of urgency for change.
  2. Once the preconditions are in place, there are three distinct phases to getting a collective impact effort up and running. (See graphic above.)
  3. Backbone organization structures can take many different forms, although no collective impact effort can survive unless the backbone leader possesses adaptive leadership skills and has the ability to mobilize people without imposing an agenda or taking credit for success.
There is no other way society will achieve large-scale progress against urgent and complex problems, unless a collective impact approach becomes an accepted way of doing business.

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