Collective impact is receiving more attention as a strategy for improving health through community collaboration. A good place to start for an overview of this strategy is a 2011 article titled Collective Impact by John Kania and Mark Kramer, as publish in the Winter 2011 issue of Stanford Social Innovation Review.
Kania and Kramer propose that too many organizations operate by a model the authors call ‘isolated impact.’ Essentially, nonprofits (and to some extent their funders) operate with the assumption that they can solve complex social challenges by developing their programs independently. The authors are quick to point out that there is definitely a place for pursuing (and funding) excellence within individual organizations. But when the goal is to address complex community problems, we need strategies in which multiple organizations working together to achieve more collectively than they could achieve on their own. This approach is called collective impact.
Kania and Kramer proceed to outline several examples of collective impact, and five conditions for collective success. The five conditions can be used as strategies for starting and sustaining collective impact projects. Multiple projects across the country have adopted the five strategies to support collective impact projects in education, health, community development, and more. The strategies include:
- Developing a common agenda
- Using a shared measurement system
- Conducting mutually reinforcing activities
- Engaging in continuous communication
- Using a backbone support organization.
The five strategies are explained in more detail within the article. We highly recommend reading the full article as an efficient primer on collective impact.