Collective Impact: It’s Not Just a Buzzword

If you found your way to this page, I’m sure that you have heard these two words before. I can also assume that you want to learn more about it and you may fall into one, some, or all of the following groups:

  1. You think it’s a buzzword. You know, one of those phrases that is mentioned at a board meeting, in conference workshops, and/or included in your grant requirements. However, you still don’t really know what it entails or why it matters.
  2. You tried to implement Collective Impact, but your community stumbled and you don’t know what went wrong. You know it’s important, so you are searching for ways that you can do it right next time.
  3. You recognize that what your organization or community is currently doing isn’t creating real and sustainable change. You want to try Collective Impact, but don’t know how. You ask: “What are the next steps?”

Regardless of which group you fall into, you have come to the right place.

This blog will offer a wide variety of insights into Collective Impact, and I hope to assist you in learning about why Collective Impact is so much more than a buzzword, what the barriers are, and how to overcome them. But, I hope you will also learn about how Collective Impact can create real change and I’m not just talking about some barely statistically-significant change. We’re looking for big and lasting changes—the kind of change that inspires people can creates real hope for a brighter future.  Successful Collective Impact should create the kind of change that shouts out, “Every community should be doing this!”

Because you know, Americans and our friends across planet Earth are dealing with some very real and incredibly serious issues. Regardless of where you live, issues such as obesity, unemployment, lack of healthcare access, lack of clean water or access to a toilet, educational barriers, food insecurity, homelessness, and fear are preventing us from living the lives we so desperately desire to live.

I know there are countless individuals who have worked tirelessly and billions of financial resources that have been dedicated to overcoming these problems, and yet, for some reason, we are still trying to figure out why we can’t create the change that we desire to see.

So what’s the real reason we can’t see the fruits of our labor?

I think a major barrier is that although there are many organizations working to overcome these issues, they are, far too often, working alone. There is a lack of true collaboration, a lack of shared resources, and there often is not a collective group of leaders who are willing to come together, take risks, remain steadfast, and challenge the status-quo.

Just imagine if kids, parents, school administrators, health and fitness experts, food providers, faith communities, and care providers all actively worked together to overcome childhood obesity, where the strengths of one organization could overcome the weaknesses of another, where brilliant minds share, test, and implement their ideas, and where the budget of each organization is combined to allow for more impactful initiatives that could reach more cities, more counties, more states, and more countries. Just imagine the kind of change that we would see in the health and well-being of our children.

My friends, this might seem incredibly unrealistic. But, it’s possible and it’s called Collective Impact.

I believe that Collective Impact is the answer for many of the issues that are preventing us from living more purposeful, healthy, and enjoyable lives and my goal in this blog is to help you believe that it is possible for you, your organization, and your surrounding community.

We don’t have all the answers to the hard questions about how to actually achieve Collective Impact—but we DO have many good answers (or at least highly-promising suggestions) to many of those questions. We’re confident that through this dialogue and site, we’ll be discovering and generating more answers to these important questions. And, we can point you to some of the best resources for learning about this important concept.