2015's Most Popular Forum Blogs and Resources

Posted Tuesday, December 22, 2015 at 5:19 pm

The New Year is a great time for reflection and often, a much needed opportunity for rejuvenation. (You can find some excellent self-care recommendations over at Nonprofit with Balls. We’re big fans of the “no email during the holidays” rule.) For our last blog of the year, we’re excited to share the Collective Impact Forum’s most popular reads and resources for 2015.

Thank you for being a part of the growing Forum community (now 14,000 strong!), and we wish you a very Happy New Year. We’ll see you in 2016!

Most Read Blogs of 2015

1. Three Steps for Advancing Equity through Collective Impact

From disaggregating data to embedding equity into your backbone structure, Juan Sebastian Arias (Living Cities) and Sheri Brady (Aspen Forum for Community Solutions) highlight key practices you can do to advance equity within your collective impact wo

2. Equity Matters in Collective Impact

In this powerful keynote address from the 2015 Collective Impact Convening, Angela Glover Blackwell (PolicyLink) shares how imperative it is that collective impact initiatives strive to help all community members reach their full potential.

3. How to Partner for Impact: The Nuts and Bolts of Aligning Collective Impact Efforts

How do we get started aligning collective impact efforts? Karen Pittman (The Forum for Youth Investment) shares strategies on how to engage and align with other collective impact initiatives in your community.

4. The Three Elements of Continuous Learning: Priorities, Plans, and Culture

The practice of continuous learning is often cited as one of the integral ingredients needed for the success of a collective impact effort. Efrain Gutierrez (FSG) discusses a framework and the three key elements needed to encourage continuous learning within collective impact wo

5. Applying An Equity Mirror to Collective Impact

Collective Impact Forum Senior Advisor Paul Schmitz shares key steps to better recognize inequities within your collective impact effort and help shift your social change work forward.

Most Popular Resources of 2015

1. Collective Impact Shared Resources

2. Tools for Backbones

3. Putting Community in Collective Impact

4. Guide to Evaluating Collective Impact

5. Sample Strategies for Pursuing a Common Agenda

Most Popular Video of the Year

Tackling Complex Social Problems through Collective Impact

Otherwise known as the video that explains collective impact in just two minutes. And yes, you can find it on YouTube as well.

What are your fave resources of the year?

Share with us your favorite reads, resources, and tools in the comments! (And Happy New Year!)

Four Ways To Use Our New Cross-Sector Partnership Assessment as a Tool to Strengthen Your Work

Posted Wednesday, November 11, 2015 at 5:49 pm

This blog was originally posted to Living Cities' blog on 11/11/15.

Today, we are excited to release our Cross-sector Partnership Assessment. In our work supporting over 70 collective impact initiatives in cities around the country, we’ve found that initiatives often struggle to build and maintain their cross-sector partnerships. So, Living Cities developed the Assessment to help cross-sector partnerships, particularly collective impact partnerships, understand how to best work with stakeholders to achieve dramatically better results for low-income people in cities.

The Assessment is an online survey that asks a series of questions about the structure, focus and maturity of your cross-sector partnership. After completing the survey, you receive an email in less than 10 minutes with customized feedback offering suggestions, resources and tools for moving the work of your cross-sector partnership forward.

While the Assessment can support any type of cross-sector partnership, the feedback and resources provided through this tool were developed with the principles of collective impact in mind. Living Cities believes that collective impact presents one of the most promising models for achieving dramatically better results, faster. The feedback is intended to help you move your partnership to working towards a shared result, being more data driven, and operate as a high-performing team. We believe that by embodying these principles, your partnership will be better positioned to achieve its intended outcomes faster.

Here are some specific ways this tool can help you and your partnership do just that:

# 1. Understand Where You Are

By assessing where you are now, you can decide where you need to go. Developing self-awareness is a common part of the growth and improvement process for individuals, teams and organizations. That’s why there are entire bodies of work around professional and team development that focus entirely on assessing where people and teams currently stand in order to know how to help them grow. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to do this when you are attempting to assess a group of partners from multiple organizations, especially because it is difficult to know what you should be looking for when you are just getting started. At Living Cities, we have benefitted from the hard work and learning of over 70 collective impact initiatives and have identified a set of elements that are necessary for cross-sector partnerships to be successful. The Cross-Sector Partnership Assessment shares that learning in a way that meets you and your partnership where you are, and helps you think through where you might need to go next.

# 2. Start a Dialogue to Build Shared understanding

The true power of this tool lies in how you and your partners use the feedback. One way to maximize the transformative potential of the Assessment is to have all of your partners complete the survey questions, then come together to compare your responses. Inevitably this will highlight differences in perception about the structure, roles and priorities of the partnership, and will create an opportunity for dialogue. We developed a group discussion guide that includes a sample meeting agenda to help you use the Assessment collaboratively.

# 3. Develop a Shared Agenda for the Work to be Done

Surfacing the tension and alignment in your existing work is a key step toward building a common agenda and aligning behind a shared result you aim to achieve. The feedback email that you and your partners receive upon completing the Assessment contains links to resources, including tools and exercises that can help you capture action commitments and chart your path forward. Anyone can articulate a goal and make a plan to accomplish it. What makes collective impact powerful and unique is when cross-sector partners articulate a shared goal *together* and developing outcomes that help everyone evaluate what is working, what isn’t, and why. The collaborative process allows individuals and organizations to work on different strategies while understanding how that work fits into a broader effort to change systems and achieve enduring change.

# 4. Continuously Reflect and Improve

Truly applying the principles of collective impact means continuously reflecting on progress. The Assessment can be taken as many times as you like, but is designed to be most effective when taken once or twice a year as a tool to reflect on how your partnership has evolved and how you can continue to grow and sustain your work. Individuals and partners can compare their past responses with current responses to create a dialogue about progress, or lack thereof. Even when the new feedback doesn’t result in any new information, the process of having formal opportunities for structured reflection is the kind of essential care and feeding required to maintain momentum behind the work and keep partners at the table.

We know that the systemic problems we are trying to tackle nationally cannot be solved by any one organization or sector. Likewise, cross-sector partnerships in places are essential to achieving dramatically better results for low-income people and building a new urban practice. This Cross-Sector Partnership Assessment is one tool that partnerships can use to support their ongoing work. We hope it is helpful and would love to hear from you about how we can improve it. You can share your thoughts about the Assessment in our user survey or join the conversation on the Collective Impact Forum. However you engage, the bottom line is that you are not alone in this work. We are all learning together.

Take the Assessment

Share your questions below or in the CI Forum's discussion thread.

Calculating the Cost of Collective Impact – New Backbone Budget Scenario Tool

Posted Tuesday, October 27, 2015 at 5:01 pm

We talk a lot about the importance of a backbone organization in collective impact, but moving from the conceptual idea of a backbone into making it a reality requires key decisions around three important pieces: size & structure, selection process, and funding sources.

The visual below outlines the key strategic questions any collective impact initiative must answer when going through the process of creating a backbone:

Implicit within these questions is a need to first have a basic understanding of how much it will cost to create and operate a backbone organization. How can a community fundraise for backbone infrastructure without having a rough budget in mind for how the money will be used? How can a community make key decisions on how many and what types of full-time employees the backbone should have without first knowing the cost implications of those choices?

The 3-Year Backbone Budget Scenario Analysis Tool is a new tool created by FSG in order to help answer that first, important question of how much will this cost. In our collective impact work, we often get the question, “How much would it cost for us to create a backbone organization for our initiative?” The answer is “it depends.”

It depends on a number of inputs, including number and type of full-time employees, salary ranges, various operational cost buckets, and level of shared measurement investment. This tool allows you, the user, to develop scenarios based on each of these considerations.

Please check out the tool in the CI Forum resource library. We hope this will be a useful resource for collective impact initiatives going forward, and please let us know if you have any questions or comments to share.

Download 3-Year Backbone Budget Scenario Analysis Tool

Priority Setting

Posted 6 years ago at 7:01 pm

Hello - Our program is at the stage of setting priorites from what we have heard from our stakeholders (internal and external). Looking from this community of interest what has been your major your major learning, insight, or discovery in the area of priority setting? What have been tools, resources etc that have helped you set priorities that meet your project goals? what are the dilemmas/opportunties in setting priorites for collective imapct projects.

Thank you



New Resources for Collective Impact Working Groups

Posted 6 years ago at 7:01 pm

Hello, Forum members! I wanted to point you to a recent blog post by Collective Impact Forum Associate Director Robert Albright, who shares about three new resources to support collective impact working groups and steering committes, including new additions to the popular toolkit Tools for Working Groups. All the tools can be found in the Forum's resource library, and are free to access.

To learn more about these new resources, please see his post, New Tools for Collective Impact Working Groups.

New Tools for Collective Impact Working Groups

Posted Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 6:30 pm

Do you need some ideas for facilitating an ice-breaker among community leaders who have not previously met before? Have you hit a roadblock and need a fresh way to facilitate a discussion and find common ground among your group?

Are you looking for tools or templates to keep your Steering Committee updated on working groups’ progress?

Do you need some inspiration for how another community has framed their collective impact strategies for pursuing a common agenda?

If one any of these questions apply to you and/or your collective impact partners, there are several new resources available in the Collective Impact Forum’s resource library that will be of interest:

Compendium of Warm-Up Exercises

These slides are a compendium of exercises used with both working groups and steering committees for a collective impact effort focused on childhood obesity. While these slides are specific to childhood obesity, they can easily be adapted for any social issue.

Working Groups Toolkit

The existing “Working Groups Toolkit” on the Collective Impact Forum resource page has been updated this month to include two new tools:

  • Working Group Meeting Planning and Execution Steps: to be used by action planning working groups to guide meeting execution and identify roles/responsibilities. This template is meant to give a generic outline (not a rigid guide) of the steps for planning and executing working group meetings, including interaction with a Steering Committee. See pages 10-11 of the “Working Groups Toolkit” file.
  • Working Group Meeting Agenda and Notes Template: to be used by action planning working groups for developing agendas, summarizing discussions, and assigning tasks after meetings. See pages 12-13 of the “Working Groups Toolkit” file.

Sample Strategies for Pursuing a Common Agenda

These strategies were developed for a collective impact effort focused on improving health outcomes in a large U.S. city. These strategies (included for illustrative purposes only) represent the areas where each working group would focus over the next one to three years.

Feel free to adapt these tools and resources to your community’s needs and local context. If you have any feedback or questions about these tools, don’t hesitate to post your question or comments below.

2014’s Top Collective Impact Resources

Posted Friday, December 12, 2014 at 4:36 pm

We’re excited to share with you some of the “top” reads for the year from the Collective Impact Forum--the year’s most downloaded reports, the most popular posts, and the most accessed tools from our resource library.

As we gear up for 2015, we look forward to sharing even more resources with you and finding more ways to support you and your social change work.

Top 5 Blogs

2014's most popular posts from the Forum blog.

1. The Culture of Collective Impact

Paul Schmitz, Senior Advisor for the Collective Impact Forum, shares the five core values that help leaders work better together when striving for results for their collective impact efforts.

2. Bringing an Equity Lens to Collective Impact

Junious Williams and Sarah Marxer (Urban Strategies Council) discuss how initiatives can include an equity lens to each of the five collective impact elements.

3. Building Civic Confidence Through Collective Impact

Monique Miles from the Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions discusses three examples of communities demonstrating a willingness to take on increasingly complex issues while using a variety of approaches to achieve impact.

4. The Types of Problems Suited for Collective Impact

Collective Impact Forum director Jennifer Splansky Juster explores what questions initiatives should ask when starting up to help determine if collective impact is the approach to take.

5. Corralling Collaborations

Karen Pittman from the Forum for Youth Investment discusses what tasks are necessary for initiatives to align their work.

Top 5 Resources

The most downloaded articles and reports from the Forum Resource Library in 2014.

1. Guide to Evaluating Collective Impact

Leaders of collective impact initiatives need an evaluation approach that is as multi-faceted, responsive, and flexible as the initiatives themselves. This three-part guide offers detailed advice on how to plan for and implement effective evaluation activities in the context of collective impact.

2. Committing to Collective Impact: From Vision to Implementation

This article focuses on what to consider when launching collective impact working groups, how to identify stakeholders best suited to serve on working groups, and how working groups can succeed in their first six months.

3. Collective Insights on Collective Impact

22 practitioners, funders, community organizers, and thought-leaders share cutting-edge thinking on important collective impact topics such as public policy, evaluation, and community engagement.

4. Aligning Collective Impact Initiatives

Communities can suffer from too many initiatives, creating overlap, inefficiency, and frustration. This piece explores how to align multiple coalitions into a system collective impact initiative.

5. How Public Policy Can Support Collective Impact

This learning brief shares examples and recommendations of public policies that use funding streams, regulations, reporting and auditing practices, and interdepartmental collaboration to enable communities to apply the collective impact approach to tackling complex social problems.

Top 5 Tools

The most popular tools from the Forum Resource Library in 2014.

1. Tools for Backbones

This toolkit includes a number of tools for establishing the infrastructure of a collective impact backbone, including a list of sample backbone activities, a sample request for proposals for a backbone organization, and sample backbone position descriptions.

2. Backbone Support Assessment Worksheet

Communities often have more than one organization that can take on aspects of an overarching leadership and coordination role. This tool outlines several attributes to consider when determining which organization(s) are the strongest candidates for playing these roles.

3. Mapping Moving Trains

To better align your community’s work, it is useful to look for the “moving trains” that have already taken on an issue. This tool provides a quick way to get an understanding of where there are overlaps and gaps among current initiatives.

4. Working Group Planning Template

This tool could be used by action planning work groups to help guide their structure and overall strategic direction, as well as to define their implementation plan

5. Tools for Working Groups

This toolkit includes a number of tools for working groups as they form, determine strategic direction, develop implementation plans, and identify measurement indicators.

Top Videos

Tackling Complex Social Problems through Collective Impact

This player is to be used to generate embed code for CI Forum videos only.

What is collective impact? How is it different from other forms of collaboration? We know that these questions aren’t always easy to answer, even for collective impact practitioners. That’s why the Collective Impact Forum has created a short motion graphic, Tackling Complex Social Problems through Collective Impact, to illustrate how collective impact works and why it’s an effective approach to social change.

Shape Up Somerville

This video profiles Shape Up Somerville's collective impact journey, and their initiative's goal to build and sustain a healthy community using the collective impact approach.

Why Collective Impact?

This player is to be used to generate embed code for SVI Livestream videos only.

Collective impact practitioners discuss an important question—“Why collective impact?” They explain why collective impact has been an approach where they have found success for their initiatives and for empowering systemic change.

Thank you!

Thank you for being a part of our growing collective impact community and making 2014 a fantastic first year for the Forum!

Please share with us in the comments YOUR favorite resources, blogs, and tools related to collective impact. We would love to hear what in the field you find valuable.

Online Project Management Software/Communications Dashboard

Posted 7 years ago at 7:01 pm

Hello all, I'm looking for two things:

1. Is anyone using 'project management' software of any kind to share messages, calendars/timelines, documents that multiple partners might be working on, and as a place to have a home for the many documents and agreements created in Collective Impact work. If so, can you share what it is, whether or not your partners are actually utilizing it, and how you secured buy-in? I've used Basecamp before for a non-CI effort, but I'd like to find a real-life example for a CI effort.

2. Have you developed a 'communications dashboard' (might also be referred to as a 'communications plan') that gets really, really into the weeds about how you're managing the continuous communication piece as a backbone?

Thanks so much!