You are browsing the archive for United Front 2011.

Talking About Collective Impact

February 20, 2012 in Collective Impact, Conversation, Domestic/Family Violence, Uncategorized, United Front 2011

Starting Monday, February 27

Mark Kramer

Jeff Edmondson

Collective Impact experts Mark Kramer and Jeff Edmondson are joining United Front for a special online conversation generated by the United Against Violence Summit and United Front 2011 events last year. Mark and Jeff will be on hand to share additional insights and answer your questions on a range of topics including accessing resources, data collection, backbone organizations and transition models.

Think About It.
United Front’s interactive platform is an ideal learning space for deep, critical thinking about how to solve complex problems in our community. Come with your questions and curiosity. We will have resources available to help ground you in the most current thinking about Collective Impact.    

Cathy ten Broeke

Johnathan Sage-Martinson

Talk About It.
Spend some time talking with people in our own community like Cathy ten Broeke, director, Minneapolis/Hennepin County Office to End Homelessness,and Jonathan Sage-Martinson, Central Corridor Funders Collaborative and others who will help to expand our discussion.

Take Action.  Register Now!
You must be registered on United Front to participate in the conversation. Our online conversation is NOT a real-time chat. That means you can log on and add your questions or comments whenever it’s convenient for you.

Not Registered? Register Here be sure to check the box next to Collective Impact: Continuing the Conversation.

Already Registered on United Front? Log In, go to the “All Conversations” tab, and click the Collective Impact Conversation “Join” button.

Need Help? Email the United Front Team

Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact Work

February 16, 2012 in Collective Impact, Domestic/Family Violence, Uncategorized, United Front 2011

Stanford Social Innovation Review & FSG Webinar
March 20, 2012
11:00–noon PT, 2:00–3:00pm ET, 7:00–8:00pm CET
Register Here

By Fay Hanleybrown, John Kania, & Mark Kramer

What does a global effort to reduce malnutrition have in common with a program to reduce teenage substance abuse in a small rural Massachusetts county? Both have achieved significant progress toward their goals: the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) has helped reduce nutritional deficiencies among 530 million poor people across the globe, while the Communities That Care Coalition of Franklin County and the North Quabbin(Communities That Care) has made equally impressive progress toward its much more local goals, reducing teenage binge drinking by 31 percent. Surprisingly, neither organization owes its impact to a new previously untested intervention, nor to scaling up a high-performing nonprofit organization. Despite their dramatic differences in focus and scope, both succeeded by using a collective impact approach. Download PDF to READ MORE

Thanks for Joining Us!

November 17, 2011 in Collective Impact, Events, Uncategorized, United Front 2011, United Front Blog Archives

Thank you for joining United Front’s webinar series!

Leadership for Collective Impact
Friday, November 4; Noon – 1 p.m.

Download the presentation.

Critical Times – Critical Board Questions Webinar
Thursday, November 17; Noon – 1 p.m.

Download the presentation.

Critical Board Questions Webinar Instructions

November 17, 2011 in Events, Uncategorized, United Front 2011

Critical Times – Critical Board Questions
Thursday, November 17; Noon – 1 p.m.

Before the webinar, please use this link to test your computer’s compatibility.
Click on “Participant” and it will run the compatibility test. If your computer is ready for the webinar, you will see a green check mark.

If your computer is not ready, please call the ReadyTalk support line number listed on the test screen. They will provide assistance.

Both call in and join the conference online. Please start this process at least 5 minutes before the start of the webinar.

  1. Call into the webinar at 1-866-740-1260. The access code is 6327222.
  2. Next, log on to the webinar on the Internet at You’ll enter the same access code – 6327222 – under “Participant: Join a Conference” in the upper left corner and click “Join.”

If, at any point, you have difficulty accessing either element, please call ReadyTalk’s Tech Support at 1-800-843-9166 or via e-mail at They’ll help get you into the conference quickly.

Webinar Registration & Instructions

November 16, 2011 in Events, Uncategorized, United Front 2011, United Front Blog Archives

Critical Times – Critical Board Questions
Thursday, November 17; Noon – 1 p.m.

If you are already registered, please go directly to the Webinar Instructions.

If you are NOT registered for the webinar Register Now.

Part I: Making the Case for Collective Impact

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

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. Read the rest of this entry →

United Front Webinar Series

October 21, 2011 in Collective Impact, Events, Uncategorized, United Front 2011, United Front Blog Archives

Leadership for Collective Impact
Friday, November 4; Noon – 1 p.m.
At United Front 2011, keynote speaker Mark Kramer discussed the power and importance of broad, cross-sector coordination to drive large-scale systems change. These collective impact initiatives require leaders at all levels to develop and use “21st century” leadership skills in their work. Webinar participants will explore the alignment between the trends in leadership and the adaptive skills required for collective action, and have a chance to participate in a simple self-assessment. You will leave the webinar with an awareness of 21st century leadership skills and ideas for how to further develop your own leadership. Download the presentation.

Critical Times – Critical Board Questions Webinar
Thursday, November 17;  Noon – 1 p.m.

If you missed the Critical Times – Critical Board Questions breakout at United Front 2011, no need to worry. A version of this session will be delivered via webinar by MAP’s director of strategic development services, Christie Hammes. This session is designed to help executive directors and board members frame the questions and discussions that can propel their organizations’ work. Participants will learn about practices and tools to create powerful boardroom conversations that can bring fresh understanding to complex situations. Download the presentation.


About the Facilitator
Christie Hammes, MAP‘s director of strategic development services has nurtured the development of organizations and their executives, board members, and other leaders as consultant, trainer, coach, and facilitator — first through her own consulting firm, The Milestone Group, and since 2000 as director of strategic development at MAP. From an earlier career in the corporate world to more recent work in nonprofits, government and business, Christie has honed her leadership and organization development skills from work in all three sectors.

Conversations to Navigate the Rough Road Ahead

October 13, 2011 in Events, Uncategorized, United Front 2011, United Front Blog Archives

A colleague of mine on the West Coast recently quipped that nonprofit boards of directors operate at “glacial” speed.” I knew what she was talking about. Many boards of directors (and their staff leaders) are stymied by how to make sense of the rapid changes in funding streams, client needs, and external factors that are threatening the very existence of many organizations. Many nonprofit board responses can be best described as “stalled out” or “deer in the headlights.”

Chait, Ryan, and Taylor created a framework that has helped boards of directors grapple with the toughest challenges of governance in a model they call “Governance as Leadership.” Their model puts forth that boards of directors operate in three essential modes:  fiduciary, strategic, and generative. They argue that boards spend most of their time in either the fiduciary or strategic mode and that neither of these modes is likely to yield the “sense-making” or fresh perspectives needed to grapple with the most daunting challenges of the day. And “sense-making” is truly what we need more of.

In the generative mode of governance, nonprofit boards are invited to reframe the questions that their organizations should be asking to reveal fresh approaches. Mark Kramer, the keynote speaker at United Front 2011, posed a timely and provocative generative question. He asked, “How would Steve Jobs reinvent the nonprofit sector?” Indeed, Chait argues that leaders exercise their greatest power by framing the issues that need to be addressed. A question thinly veiled in the Governance as Leadership model is “why do we relegate our finest thinkers – our board members – to a strict diet of binary choices fed to boards by well-intentioned staffs?”

This shift in thinking about the premier contributions of good governance requires a different kind of conversation in the boardroom – one that involves curiosity, different points of view, and disagreement.
Read the rest of this entry →

United Front 2011 Summary

October 11, 2011 in Collective Impact, Events, United Front 2011, United Front Blog Archives

Go to Conference Materials

United Front 2011 Summary

I had the opportunity to attend United Front 2011 this morning, focusing on Collective Impact. One of the more interesting parts of the morning session was the presentation by Jay Kiedrowski from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs over at the University of Minnesota. In a marvelously data-laden presentation, he made some startling (if sobering) key points.

  • The Minnesota elder population is increasing and it’s going to continue its dramatic increase as the Baby Boomers move into their senior years. By 2030, seniors (age 65+) will outnumber children (ages 5-17).
  • Minnesota has lower child poverty rates than the nation (14% compared to 20%), but from 2000 to 2009, poverty rates here increased much faster than they did nationally (56% increase locally vs. 18% increase nationally). This is a disturbing trend.
  • Home prices will continue their downward march until at least 2014. (Though I recently heard 2020 as a more realistic—or pessimistic—date.)
  • The proportion of income eaten up by healthcare costs increased from 7% in 1970 to about 17% today, and is expected to continue to increase (especially if incomes continue to go down!).
  • The resolution to the Minnesota budget deficit of $5 billion in this biennium was not a resolution but merely a stopgap measure based on borrowing and shifting monies around.

Thus was the stage set for the day.
Mark Kramer, collective impact guru, was the keynote speaker. Kramer is co-founder of FSG, a nonprofit consulting firm, and is also the author of a much-read article on collective impact in the winter 2011 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

He focused on the need for government, corporations, and the nonprofit sector to align to solve problems. Moving to collective impact is a paradigmatic shift in how we address complex social problems (e.g., poverty, education, health care). It’s hard work but the rewards, when successful, are significant. Collective impact is more than collaboration (which in and of itself is not so simple!) and requires five conditions:

  • A common agenda with a shared vision and a single goal.
  • A shared measurement system.
  • Mutually reinforcing activities (different players may address different parts of the puzzle, but they fit into a cohesive whole).
  • Continuous communication (weekly, monthly, virtual and in person).
  • An organization that provides the backbone (infrastructure) of support to the initiative—coordinating the effort, developing and implementing measurement systems, driving the continuous communication, and reporting out.

This was followed by a panel focused on cross-sector innovation and redesign efforts. Cathy ten Broeke spoke about the Heading Home Hennepin initiative with the ultimate goal of ending homelessness in Hennepin County. Jonathan Sage-Martinson talked about the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative which is focused on supporting small businesses during and after the construction of the central corridor light rail line. Les Fujitake talked about the partnership the Bloomington School District is undertaking with Fairview Health Systems, Greater Twin Cities United Way, and the McKnight Foundation—an initiative focused on linking early childhood efforts with K-3 operations to close the achievement gap and improve graduation rates.

Bottom line: We have a lot of work ahead of us. But I left feeling optimistic. I think we can do it. Together, we can get Minnesota back on track and working for all of us!

Elizabeth A. Peterson, Ph.D., Contributor
Director of Research & Planning
Greater Twin Cities United Way