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Collective impact

What is collective impact?

The Area Partnerships work is informed by the Collective Impact framework to bring about effective and lasting social change. Collective impact is a structured approach to collaboration which brings together the whole system - families, communities, services, business and philanthropy and government - to understand and tackle complex social issues

Collective Impact has five core elements.

  • Common agenda: agreeing a shared vision for change and core strategies to achieve it, that reflect the aspirations of the local community.
  • Strategic learning and measurement: identifying opportunities for collecting data and evidence, strategic learning and evaluation as the work unfolds, to track progress and hold each other accountable.
  • Focus on high leverage strategies: concentrating the initiative’s effort on strategies which can have the biggest impact in the context of the partners’ collective knowledge, influence, networks and resources. Identifying when it is most effective for partners to align effort and collaborate or to test competing approaches to achieve the common agenda.
  • Community engagement and communication: being genuine, open and consistent with all involved to build broad ownership and commitment to the work. Recognising the right of those affected by an issue to participate in attempts to address it.
  • Backbone support: providing appropriate staff and resources to deliver the stewardship and infrastructure required to achieve community change. This includes resources to build a shared vision and strategy, mobilise funding, support learning and capability development and advance policy.

Why collective impact?

The Area Partnerships were established to address a complex problem - the vulnerability of children, young people and families in Victoria. 

No one organisation or department can solve this challenge on their own. It requires a whole-of-government, whole-of-community response.

Leading experts suggest collaborative strategies – which focus on outcomes - are the most likely to succeed in addressing complex problems. Effective collaborative approaches engage beyond the usual suspects, draw on lived experience, use data to drive learning about what works, and are responsive to the local conditions in which people are born, develop, work, live, and age.

Collective impact and Area Partnerships webinar 

Collective impact continues to evolve

Collective Impact practitioners from across the world continue to evolve and refine this approach as they share their experiences and learning about what it takes in practice to achieve ongoing social change. For some of the latest thinking in Collective Impact, see this article from the Tamarack Institute:

Collective impact resources

  • The original Collective Impact article, by John Kania and Mark Kramer was published in the Standford Social Innovation Review, Winter 2011.
  • Collaboration for Impact is an Australian community of practice that helps communities work better together to tackle their toughest problems. 
  • Tamarack Institute (Canada) works with leaders in non-profits, governments, businesses and the community to make work of advancing positive community change easier and more effective. 
  • FSG: Reimagining Social Change (US) is a mission-driven consulting firm for leaders in search of large-scale, lasting social change.