Part II: Does Collective Impact Have a Seat at the Innovation Table?

November 15, 2011 in United Front Blog Archives by United Front

This is the final blog installment exploring Collective Impact by Dana Mortensen, co-founder/executive director, World Savvy: Think Beyond Your Borders, United Front 2011 attendee.

Nonprofit leaders constantly consider how to differentiate ourselves from our peers. How is our solution more effective? Why are we different and worthy of support?

As we scale our work and compete for limited resources, we have been encouraged to look to the for-profit- sector for examples of best practices and effective principles. Borrowing from corporate business models, we implement strategic plans that challenge us to focus on goals and outcomes with razor-sharp precision, all the while differentiating ourselves.

During the Art and Practice of Innovation breakout session that I attended, the facilitator made a compelling case for nonprofits to innovate as a way to remain competitive.  On the heels of the intense discussion about the need for collaboration towards collective impact, I began contemplating the relationship between collaboration and innovation. Many leaders, perhaps behind closed doors, would tell you when pressed that collaboration is extremely difficult to do well, and that it has often drained resources or resulted in uneven commitment, and consequently, limited impact. But the real question I pondered was does collective impact encourage or stifle collective innovation?