Centering Equity in Collective Impact

Posted by Stanford Social Innovation Review on July 5, 2022

A decade of applying the collective impact approach to address social problems has taught us that equity is central to the work.

In 2011, two of us, John Kania and Mark Kramer, published an article in Stanford Social Innovation Review entitled “Collective Impact.” It quickly became the most downloaded article in the magazine’s history. To date, it has garnered more than one million downloads and 2,400 academic citations. More important, it encouraged many thousands of people around the world to apply the collective impact approach to a broad range of social and environmental problems. Independent evaluations have confirmed that the approach can contribute to large-scale impact, and a global field of collective impact practitioners has emerged. Their efforts have immeasurably deepened our understanding of the many factors that can foster or stymie collective impact’s success.

In the original article, we defined collective impact as “the commitment of a group of important actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem.” We further identified a structured process with five essential conditions that distinguish collective impact from other types of collaboration.

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