The 5 Keys of Collective Impact

Most organizations lack the ability to solve major social problems by themselves, which is why something like collective impact is so intriguing. Collective impact is the approach in which cross-sector collaboration aims to achieve positive effects on major social issues. It was first introduced in 2011 by John Kania and Mark Kramer in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

The sheer number of challenges facing our world adds complexity to our hopes for change and even though many innovative approaches have been attempted, very few are working. That’s where Kania and Kramer stepped in. When organizations work together, great things are possible. The collective impact approach uses five conditions to achieve remarkable social impact. Even more, these can be accomplished by your organization on even a local scale.

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Here’s what you need to begin your collective impact journey:

1. Common Agenda

Implementing a collective impact process takes great communication and for all participants to be on the same page. There needs to be a shared vision for change and a common understanding of the problem being faced. While the individual approaches to solve the issue may vary, all should be aligned on each other’s contribution.

Do this: Define the vision and create common grounds. The vision of collective impact efforts tend to be grandiose (think: reducing suicide or improving water conditions in foreign countries), which is exactly why all sectors involved must understand the overall vision.

Ask each stakeholder: What are the key goals that want to be accomplished for this community over the next five years to be able to achieve this vision?

2. Shared Measurement

The agenda development will help unveil areas to measure the actual impact of your efforts. Measuring success is pivotal in efforts like these. For one, it’s great to see the overall impression of you work, but it also helps guide the direction and effectiveness of future projects. Shared measurement can improve data quality, track progress, enable collaboration and catalyze action.

Begin by agreeing on what success means to the collective team. Develop a list of common indicators shown and used between everyone involved, allowing for learning and improvement. Remember to report on your measured social impactafterward, so all involved understand their contribution and how it can be adjusted or continued.

There are many IT platforms that allow multiple organizations to enter/share data. Find one that works best for stakeholders and employees, and start tracking and measuring the data!

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