Part I: Making the Case for Collective Impact

November 3, 2011 in Collective Impact, Uncategorized, United Front 2011, United Front Blog Archives by Tania Jones

This is the first of two blogs exploring Collective Impact from the perspective of  Dana Mortensen, Co-Founder/Executive Director, World Savvy: Think Beyond Your Borders, who attended United Front 2011. Part II will be posted here on United Front November 17.

At United Way’s annual conference, United Front 2011, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in contemplating the conference theme, Collective Impact. As an individual nonprofit leader focused intently on scaling the impact of my organization’s work, I welcome chances like these to get a fresh perspective on the bigger picture, the larger ecosystem that my work is a part of.

An impressive call to action from Mark Kramer began the day, when he encouraged conference participants to think beyond our individual approaches to solving entrenched societal problems. He pointed out, quite logically, that no single organization is capable of ‘solving’ big problems like health care, or education reform, and that the way forward is to come together under the banner of collective impact. Embracing a collective impact model requires organizations to abandon their agendas in favor of the same goals, specifically common agendas and measurement, and a commitment to tackle problems together. This model, he contends, depends on continuous communication and a backbone of strong leadership–a known and respected individual or entity that yields considerable influence in the community. He shared cases studies, including Cincinnati’s Strive initiative which is tackling quality education, as evidence of the power of collective action to make an impact.

For me, the argument for collective impact makes good sense. But, of course, the devil is always in the details, and as I headed to the break out session on The Art of Innovation, I wondered about the role of innovation and collective impact.

Dana Mortenson, Contributor
Co-Founder, Executive Director
World Savvy: Think Beyond Your Borders