Principles of Collective Impact

There are so many ways to collaborate, and we support any collaborative framework that works for our Local Partners. Our program is inspired by the collective impact model.

We encourage leaders and stakeholders to choose the collaborative framework that serves their community’s values, resources, culture, and needs. We’ve also seen how communities around the world, working across an array of social issues—education, physical and mental health, poverty, housing, employment, socialization, and more—have changed outcomes when they apply the principles of collective impact.

Veteran well-being spans a huge spectrum of social issues, with specific cultural factors related to military service. Not every veteran has a need in each issue area, but in every community, each issue area has many veterans in need.

You don’t need to become a collective impact expert to increase your community’s capacity to collaborate for impact in the lives of veterans. Our program bridges the gap from the theoretical to the practical.

To meet the needs of reintegrating veterans and their families, communities must have a shared goal, differentiated responsibilities, and mutual accountability. That’s what collective impact is fundamentally about: using a simple framework to mount a complex response to complex social issues.

It helps to have a shared vocabulary when talking about these complex issues. We've distilled the basics for you below.

Collective impact: a primer

Phases of collective impact

  1. Assess readiness
  2. Initiate action
  3. Organize for impact
  4. Begin implementation
  5. Sustain action and impact

Conditions of success

  • Common Agenda: collaborators agree on the problem at hand, and a shared approach to the problem.
  • Shared Measurement Systems: collaborators agree on what constitutes success, and what metrics will be used to evaluate success.
  • Mutually Reinforcing Activities: participants design and tailor activities based on their organizational strengths to contribute to the common agenda.
  • Continuous Communication: collaborators remain connected, relaying progress and roadblocks, and closely coordinating efforts.
  • Backbone Support Organizations: provide the infrastructure through which all of the efforts of the collaborative are coordinated.

Components of success

  • Governance Infrastructure: How does the collaborative make decisions, and who is responsible for what?
  • Strategic Planning: What are we trying to accomplish, what does success look like, and how do we get there?
  • Member Involvement: Do we have the right people at the table?
  • Evaluation and Improvement: Are we making a difference, how much of a difference, and what can we do better?

Learn more about collective impact

Codified in a 2011 Stanford Social Innovation Review article by John Kania and Mark Kramer of FSG, “Collective Impact” is a structured approach to working together, better.