Collective impact efforts are often discussed in terms of organizations or sectors, such as business, nonprofit, government, and philanthropy. What is often left out of the discussion is the community itself, even though it is a critical factor in the long-term success of collective impact initiatives. The community includes the individuals, families, networks, and organizations who will be affected by the initiative and who participate in it, but who are not usually considered to have active leadership roles in creating community solutions. It includes, for example, people directly affected by the problem, as well as social service organizations that may not be initially represented on steering committees or working groups.

To advance the conversation about how to engage the community in collective impact, the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions gathered scholars and practitioners for an honest discussion. In this roundtable, the participants discuss why it is important to involve the community actively, how it can be done within a collective impact initiative, and the challenges and pitfalls of engaging the community.


This is part of a compilation of nine new articles about collective impact. Sponsored and curated by the Collective Impact Forum, Collective Insights on Collective Impact, which appears in Stanford Social Innovation Review's fall issue, shares cutting-edge thinking from 22 practitioners, funders, community organizers, and thought-leaders.

Included here is also a second article that provides a longer version of a roundtable discussion.


January 20, 2015 - It’s About the Community: Why Community Engagement and Process Matter in Collective Impact


  • Raymond A. Colmenar, senior program manager, Health Happens in Neighborhoods
  • Richard Harwood, founder and president, The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation
  • Stacey Stewart, U.S. president, United Way Worldwide
  • Martin Zanghi, director of youth and community engagement, University of Southern Maine Muskie School of Public Service
  • Sheri Brady, senior associate for strategic partnerships, the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions (Moderator)

Learn more and register.

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1 Comment

Excellent topic.  Over the past 18 months our 501(c)3 corporation, SEACAB (SouthEastern Arizona Clean and Beautiful) has participated in partnerships with the Graham County Health Department, Freeport McMoran Copper, Inc.,the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Service Farm, the United States Forestry Service (PERP program),and the Gila Valley Watershed Partnership to convert green-waste into commercial compost.  We will be hosting a community-wide demonstration on September 26, 2014.  The demonstration will involve the use of a Mobark 2600 Wood Hog to grind 6,000 cubic yards of collected green-waste into mulch, placing it into windrows and start the compost "cooking" process.  Guest speakers will speak to the science of the process and the benefits of compost usage for both neighborhood and commercial purposes.

Submitted by Harold Herbert on Thu, 2014-08-28 13:49