Collective impact is one form of cross-sector partnership. This Living Cities paper is a framework for understanding a cross-sector partnership's component traits and to support reflection on if the pieces fit together in a way that will enable the partnership to achieve its goals. Throughout this paper, examples are used to illustrate the traits from four cross-sector partnerships that Living Cities worked intensely with during the development of this work.


From the White House to the Harvard Business Review, state governments to local philanthropy, many institutions and individuals have expressed their belief in the power of cross-sector partnerships by funding and participating in them. As a result, these partnerships have multiplied in recent years. However, the collective understanding of how best to structure and do work through cross-sector partnerships to achieve results is limited.

At Living Cities, we believe in the power of cross-sector partnerships to address some of the toughest challenges our country faces today. We also believe there is a need for greater understanding of cross-sector partnerships so that practitioners, participants, and funders have a systematic way and shared language to reflect on whether their existing or planned partnerships are structured to achieve their intended goals. The work presented here is our early attempt to move towards that increased understanding.