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Stanford Social Innovation Review | February 2014

As we discuss the post-2015 development agenda, how can we empower global partnerships to achieve the transformational change we need for a better future? This article provides lessons and best practices from six diverse initiatives on applying the collective impact approach on a global scale—how to develop a common agenda, operate effective shared measurement systems, support and coordinate activities, facilitate communication, and provide strong governance for global collaborative efforts. This article appeared on

Top Takeaways

  1. Common issues with current global partnerships are often due to disconnects between the global strategy and local implementation, a lack of shared measurement systems, and insufficient structures to manage the complexity.
  2. Global collective impact efforts are different than local initiatives because they require a multi-layered backbone structure where each layer plays a distinct role, with organizations at the global, regional, and local level (see graphic). 
  3. While the funding required to fully support a multi-layered backbone is significant, it’s small compared to the total resources that the backbone structure will help channel towards greater impact.
With significant gaps in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals imminent, the status quo cannot be the path forward.