The Five Conditions of Collective Success

Making Collective Impact Work In Your Community

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Collective impact is the collaboration and combined efforts of individual organizations to bring about a shared vision of large-scale social change. Many small community organizations wish to join in this model of activism, but in order for collective impact to make a difference, the group of organizations must meet certain conditions. Below is an overview of the key components of a successful and active collective as outlined in the Stanford Social Innovation Review article, “Collective Impact.”

Common Agenda

The first condition is a common agenda.  This means that the organizations involved must share a mutual understanding and agreement about the collective vision for social change. If those involved do not have a shared vision, the efforts of all will be undermined. 

Shared Measurement Systems

The second condition is shared measurement systems. This involves developing a shared and agreed upon form of measurement that evaluates the success and progress of the collective vision. This serves to hold organizations accountable to one another and to assess the level of collective success. 

Mutual Reinforcing Activities

The third condition is mutually reinforcing activities. Essentially, this involves delegating activities that move the collective vision forward among the organizations in a way that best utilizes their unique skills and resources. Multi-faceted social issues require multi-faceted approaches to change, yet they must be interconnected and moving towards the same goal.

Continuous Communication

The fourth condition is continuous communication, which involves developing a common vocabulary pertaining to the collective vision and ensuring that organizations communicate with one another about issues and successes that pertain to the vision. This requires regular meetings and ongoing contact to successfully track progress and discuss the needs of those involved.

Backbone Support Organizations

The fifth condition is backbone support organizations. This is an organization, or a group of organizations independent from the collective, who serve solely as the backbone of the collective. It’s a group of skilled individuals who specialize in leading, supporting, and mediating the collective. This may include training, motivating, and recruiting members. Ideally, this organization serves as the bloodline to the larger vision.