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About Collective Impact

“… we believe that there is no other way society will achieve large-scale progress against the urgent and complex problems of our time, unless a collective impact approach becomes the accepted way of doing business.”

John Kania & Mark Kramer, ‘Collective Impact’, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Winter 2011

What is Collective Impact?

Collective Impact is a framework to tackle deeply entrenched and complex social problems. It is an innovative and structured approach to making collaboration work across government, business, philanthropy, non-profit organisations and citizens to achieve significant and lasting social change. 

The Collective Impact approach is premised on the belief that no single policy, government department, organisation or program can tackle or solve the increasingly complex social problems we face as a society.  The approach calls for multiple organisations or entities from different sectors to abandon their own agenda in favour of a common agenda, shared measurement and alignment of effort.  Unlike collaboration or partnership, Collective Impact initiatives have centralised infrastructure – known as a backbone organisation – with dedicated staff whose role is to help participating organisations shift from acting alone to acting in concert. 

Kania and Kramer first wrote about collective impact in the Stanford Social Innovation Review in 2011 and identified five key conditions:

The requirements for success of a Collective Impact initiative can be distilled down to three elements

  1. 01The commitment to a common mission superseding individual organisational goals
  2. 02Trust among partners
  3. 03The recognition that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts

Why do we need Collective Impact in Australia?

Despite Australia’s high ranking internationally on wealth and standards of living indices, we have social problems that have become intractable or are worsening.

Traditionally the social system has responded to these and other complex social problems from a paradigm of isolated impact - siloed organisations, programs and projects working towards different outcomes.  The complex nature of these and other social problems means that no single program or organisation, however well managed and funded, can singlehandedly create lasting large-scale change. Collaborative, community-driven, data-based approaches are needed to address these issues.

Collective Impact offers

“a more powerful and realistic paradigm for social progress than the prevailing model of isolated impact in which countless non-profit, business, and government organisations each work to address social problems independently.”