Collective Impact

Resource Details
Publication Date: 
December 2010
John Kania and Mark Kramer

The authors cite nonprofits collaborating in an education system to introduce the concept of collective impact, defined as, “the commitment of a group of important actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem.”  Collective impact is unlike collaboration efforts and partnerships in that its “initiatives involve a centralized infrastructure, a dedicated staff, and a structured process that leads to a common agenda, shared measurement, continuous communication, and mutually reinforcing activities among all participants.”  In short, large-scale, complex social change comes from cross-sector coordination rather than individual organizations.   Intervention through individual programs describes isolated impact, an approach that finds and funds solutions within a single organization.  The authors call for a shift from isolated impact to collective impact efforts through a systematic approach focused on relationships, shared objectives, and new management and coordination organizations. Successful collective impact initiatives have five conditions that lead to results: a common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and backbone support organizations.  Even with these conditions in place, the authors note that significant financial investments are required for collective impact initiatives.  For complex social change, funders’ roles must expand to support long-term processes that often lack immediate results. 

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