Giving Compass' Take:

• Sarah Stachowiak & Lauren Gase share insights from research into collective that can help practitioners maximize their impact. 

• How can funders identify and engage the appropriate partners for collective impact? 

• Learn about the basics of collective impact

Collective impact tends to generate strong reactions. Mention it, and the person across from you will likely either extol its virtues or roll their eyes. Introduced in a 2011 SSIRarticle, the approach to social change came onto the scene and quickly became a buzzword and philanthropy darling. For some, it offered structure and clarity about how to operate complex, multi-sector social change processes that can otherwise feel opaque and intangible. For others, not so much.

We entered into the study in 2017 with a healthy skepticism about the approach and a belief that a rigorous exploration would help the social sector better understand collective impact’s potential utility. The study results have helped deepen our thinking and altered our mindsets.

Here are eight important findings:
  1. Collective impact undoubtedly contributed to changes in target populations or places.
  2. Contribution to population-level change doesn’t always look the same.
  3. Quality of implementation matters.
  4. Implementation of an equity approach doesn’t happen by accident, and a strong equity focus can lead to more equitable outcomes.
  5. Understanding relationships between the five conditions could support stronger implementation. The collective impact approach presents the five conditions as a set of discrete elements to address. Our study provides a more-nuanced way to conceptualize them.
  6. There are many ways to engage in systems change. 
  7. It takes time to create real change. 
  8. We have a lot more to learn.

Read the full article about collective impact by Sarah Stachowiak & Lauren Gase at Stanford Social Innovation Review.