Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR)

Filling the Gaps in Collective Impact

Posted on November 12, 2019

Nine supporting activities that can help make collective impact approaches to social change more nuanced and rigorous.

If you’ve been following trends in the social sector for the past 10 years, you’ve likely heard of collective impact, a model for changing systems and improving community outcomes guided by five conditions: a common vision, a shared agenda, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and “backbone” support. A 2011 Stanford Social Innovation Review article, which profiled the nonprofit StrivePartnership’s work in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, amplified the notion that cross-sector partnerships are essential to advancing systems change, and improving outcomes for children and youth. Today, many communities have embraced collective impact as a model for improving community outcomes at scale. Yet, despite the prominence of collective impact, a lingering question persists: Does it work?

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