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Collective Impact

“Collective impact” refers to an intentional way of working together and sharing information for the purpose of solving a complex problem.


Collective Impact is the commitment of a group of important actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem.


In a collective impact initiative, the participants represent different sectors of the community.  They are often a combination of individuals, organizations, institutions, nonprofits, houses of worship, representatives from the business community and government, and grantmakers.


While collective impact resembles traditional collaboration, there are five characteristics that, taken together, distinguish collective impact initiatives - and make them successful:

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Common Agenda


The participants share a vision of change and a commitment to solve a problem by coordinating their work; they agree on shared goals (common agenda).

Shared Measurement


Participants decide what metrics to track and share data among agencies, so that they can learn together across the initiative (shared measurement).

Mutually Reinforcing Activities


Mutually reinforcing activities ensure that the activities of the participants are aligned, informed by shared measurement, and are making progress towards common goal(s).

Consistent  & Open Communication


A successful collective impact initiative depends on consistent and open communication between all the participants.

The Backbone


The activities of participants are supported by a “backbone”.  The backbone plays an administrative role such as connecting participants with each other, facilitating the activities of the initiative, and coordinating data collection. The backbone may also attract financial resources to support the activities of the collective impact initiative. The backbone fosters a culture that encourages trust, information sharing and candor.


There are hundreds of collective impact initiatives all over the U.S.A. and throughout the world.  And there is research, literature, and a vibrant learning community of collective impact initiatives that have conferences and exchange best practices – sharing challenges, struggles and successes.  Many communities are addressing similar issues and share strategies with one another.

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