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New Study on Results and Lessons Learned from Collective Impact Initiatives

Learn more about this study on the Collective Impact Forum. 

The Collective Impact Forum, a learning community created and supported by FSG and the Aspen Institute for Community Solutions, announced today that they are commissioning an independent study of the field of collective impact. The Collective Impact Forum has hired two firms - ORS Impact and Spark Policy Institute - to design and implement this research study.

Since the publication of “Collective Impact” in the winter 2011 edition of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, this approach to cross-sector collaboration has been adopted by hundreds of partnerships across the globe. Many collective impact efforts have reported achieving positive results through their work, but to date, there has not been a methodologically rigorous study of the approach’s impact across multiple efforts on multiple social issues.

For this reason, the Collective Impact Forum has commissioned this study, which is funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Houston Endowment, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Our aim is to understand the ways in which collective impact has contributed to population level and system change outcomes in a sample of collective impact efforts across the U.S. and Canada. The study will highlight:

  • Where and how population level and system change outcomes are being achieved
  • Challenges and opportunities collective impact efforts are experiencing
  • Issues of sustainability
  • Lessons learned from these efforts

Our independent consultants, Jewlya Lynn of Spark Policy Institute and Sarah Stachowiak of ORS Impact, shared their enthusiasm for taking on this project:  “At Spark and ORS, we are excited about the opportunity to contribute to the field’s understanding of the potential impact of the collective impact approach. Since collective impact hit the social sector scene, there has been both excitement for and skepticism about its value. At its base, a true inquiry into the degree to which collective impact can be said to be supporting ultimate impact piqued our interests. We bring both experience in collective impact as well as a healthy skepticism to this work and will deploy a creative, rigorous design so we can credibly understand collective impact’s contribution to systemic and population level change. Both our firms also have a strong commitment to field building, an important result of this engagement.”

As part of this effort, Spark Policy Institute and ORS Impact are seeking nominations of collective impact initiatives to be part of this study. Do you know a site that would be great for the study?  If you know of an initiative that fits the criteria listed below and could help inform the field’s understanding of collective impact, please nominate them by Thursday, April 20. 

Criteria for Initiative Nominations

  • This study will look at mature initiatives that have been using the collective impact approach deeply enough and for long enough to expect to see both systems changes and population-level impacts. ORS and Spark Policy define a mature site as one that is well past the agenda setting and action planning stage, and is at least two years into implementing action together.
  • The research team wants to look at examples of initiatives from across different issue areas (e.g., education, health, economic development, juvenile justice reform, and the environment) and community sizes, including large urban centers, mid-size cities, and rural settings.  

Nominate a collective impact initiative >

Jennifer Splansky Juster

Executive Director

Sheri Brady

Aspen Forum for Community Solutions