How Well Does Grantmaking Practice Support Collective Impact?

Posted Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 7:35 pm

Findings from a national study

The five conditions for collective impact offer guidance not only for collective impact initiatives but for other forms of collaboration as well. In an effort to see more effective collaborations happening among grantmakers and grantees and across communities, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations advocates for changes in grantmaking practice that better support collaboration. Our hope is that more grantmakers will adopt practices conducive to collaboration, and many of the practices GEO advocates are aligned with the five conditions of collective impact — common agenda, shared measurement, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication and strong backbone.

Every three years, GEO conducts a national survey of staffed foundations to track progress on practices that both grantmakers and nonprofits agree are critical to achieving better results. We have a keen interest in understanding the extent to which grantmakers embrace the attitudes and practices we know are essential for collaboration because without the right kind of support collaborations won’t have the resources they need to survive and thrive.

The data from GEO’s 2014 field study show more grantmakers are adopting practices that are aligned with some of the conditions for collective impact, but in a couple of areas the data suggest more progress is needed.
 

1. Common Agenda — coming together to collectively define the problem and shape the solution

Let’s face it, foundations don’t typically have a reputation for being open and collaborative when it comes to setting strategy. Adopting a common agenda in partnership with a cross-sector range of organizations would be a radical shift for many foundations. The good news is an increasing number of grantmakers recognize the need for grantee input to inform policies, practices, program areas and strategy. In fact, the majority of funders seek input and advice from grantees, and, as the table below shows, this number has grown significantly in the past three years. This movement is a step in the right direction toward more grantmakers being comfortable with co-creating a common agenda.

2. Shared Measurement agreeing to track progress in the same way, which allows for continuous improvement.

Grantmakers and nonprofits alike want to know if our work is making a difference and how we can improve our work over time. Three-quarters of grantmakers in our survey evaluate their work, an all-time high since our survey began 10 years ago. However, the data suggest that grantmakers for the most part are not using evaluation in a way that is conducive to the shared learning and continuous improvement that is critical for effective collaboration.

From these findings, it is clear that grantmakers are using data primarily for internal purposes, such as informing internal strategy and communicating with the board. Less than half of grantmakers are sharing what they’re learning with others, such as grantees, community members or policymakers. Not only does keeping this data for internal eyes only present a missed opportunity for learning and improvement outside the walls of the foundation, it also suggests the field still has significant work to do to get the majority of foundations to buy into shared measurement.


3. Mutually Reinforcing Activities coordinating collective efforts to maximize the end result.

Grantmakers recognize that far greater impact is achieved by working with others rather than alone. Eighty percent of survey respondents said it was important to coordinate resources with other grantmakers working on similar issues, a practice which can support aligning funding to support a collaborative’s common agenda. And better yet, most of these grantmakers are walking the talk. The majority (69 percent) developed a strategic relationship with other funders in the past two years, with the primary reason for doing so being to achieve greater impact (99 percent).


4. Continuous Communications building trust and relationships among all participants

Recognizing that Money = power, the onus is on grantmakers to work proactively to build trusting, open relationships with grantees and other stakeholders. Results from GEO’s survey show that funders are increasingly seeking feedback (anonymous or nonanonymous) from grantees — 53 percent report doing so in 2014, up from 44 percent in 2011. This, plus the growth in grantmakers seeking input mentioned above, suggest that more grantmakers are taking deliberate steps to build strong relationships with grantees.

However, data from GEO’s field survey and a Nonprofit Finance Fund study suggest a gap in perception between nonprofits and grantmakers about how open grantmakers really are. Nonprofit Finance Fund, in a recent survey, asked nonprofits if the majority of their funders were willing to engage in open dialogue on a range of key financial issues. In GEO’s survey, we asked grantmakers if they were open to discuss the same issues with their grantees. As the table below shows, we found a sizeable gap between nonprofits’ perception of openness and how open grantmakers say they are.

These findings raise the question: Are grantmakers overly confident about how well they build trust and relationships with grantees and other stakeholders? One way to test this is to solicit anonymous feedback from grantees; our survey found that only about one-third (34 percent) of grantmakers currently do so.


5. Strong Backbone having a team dedicated to orchestrating the work of the group.

Collective impact initiatives have a dedicated backbone, and all forms of collaboration require some level of infrastructure and coordination. These things cost money. A key way grantmakers can support collaboration among nonprofits is by supporting this backbone or infrastructure.

GEO’s survey findings present somewhat of a mixed bag when it comes to grantmaker support for a strong backbone. Unfortunately, the majority of grantmakers (53 percent) say they rarely or never support the costs of collaboration.

Grantmakers could benefit from more education and advocacy about the importance of supporting the costs of collaboration. On the brighter side, among those grantmakers that do support collaboration, 72 percent say they fund the infrastructure or operational costs of collaboration.

How Are We Doing?

So how well do grantmaking practices align with the conditions of collective impact? For the most part, GEO’s survey shows that grantmakers have made significant progress over the years in practices that are aligned with a common agenda, mutually reinforcing activities, and continuous communications. However, there is still room for improvement. The field needs more funding for the backbone and infrastructure required to keep collaborations running. Grantmakers conducting evaluations primarily for internal audiences are missing a great opportunity for field-building learning and improvement. And while grantmakers by and large are making efforts to build strong and trusting relationships with their grantees, grantmakers and nonprofits seem to have mixed perceptions about how well those efforts are working.

Grantmakers are often key catalysts of collective impact efforts, so it is important to see alignment between grantmaker practices and the conditions of success. While GEO’s study shows areas of progress worth celebrating, the data also highlight a need for further education and advocacy for ways grantmakers can both be more collaborative — such as in buying into a common agenda and shared measurement or building trusting relationships with grantees and stakeholders — and better support collaboration by funding the costs of a backbone or infrastructure. Our hope is that as organizations like GEO, Collective Impact Forum, and others continue to reinforce the importance of these practices, we will see further progress from grantmakers in our next field study in 2017.

Question for Forum members: How does your experience compare with our findings above? Please share with us your thoughts in the comments.

To read more about GEO’s 2014 study, Is Grantmaking Getting Smarter?, click here.

 

Online Project Management Software/Communications Dashboard

Posted 4 years ago at 1:07 am

Hello all, I'm looking for two things:

1. Is anyone using 'project management' software of any kind to share messages, calendars/timelines, documents that multiple partners might be working on, and as a place to have a home for the many documents and agreements created in Collective Impact work. If so, can you share what it is, whether or not your partners are actually utilizing it, and how you secured buy-in? I've used Basecamp before for a non-CI effort, but I'd like to find a real-life example for a CI effort.

2. Have you developed a 'communications dashboard' (might also be referred to as a 'communications plan') that gets really, really into the weeds about how you're managing the continuous communication piece as a backbone?

Thanks so much!

Noelle

Differentiated Roles, Common Goals: Direct Service Providers and Collective Impact

Posted Monday, June 16, 2014 at 1:43 pm

“We’re the ones doing the work. Other people are trying to take credit for work we’ve done. It’s harder than ever to get money to provide the services needed. The foundations are all in love with backbone organizations, and seem to forget the people in the trenches.”

Sound familiar?

As I travel the country, I hear similar messages from a variety of youth-serving agencies and school districts. Many of their communities adopted a collective impact approach to see persistent problems solved. Yet, some initiatives stall indefinitely or fail to move beyond the program-rich, system-poor realities.

How can we move forward? Borrowing the Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s popular metaphor for collective impact may help. Picture a river crowded with boats and vessels of various sizes and speeds. All seem to be trying to reach a common goal, but many seem to slowly spin in circles or awkwardly bump into others. Some barely seem to move towards the finish line. A few stray off to the sides or even head up river against the current. The landing zone seems so far away and somehow they just can’t get to the finish line.

From the chaotic confusion, a rhythmic sound can be heard. An encouraging voice of the coxswain calls out to the crew. While the rowers’ energy levels and skills match those in the other boats, somehow the united crew speeds forward.

Relying on the coxswain to keep them informed, the crew continues to push toward the yet unseen goal.

What makes this crew more effective than the others? The crew demonstrates a commitment to the goal and shares a desire to advance that common agenda (more than their own limited individual impact). Second, each member of the crew delivers on their strengths in sync with the others. Third, the coxswain provides continuous communication to the crew (and the public observing along the river) and helps everyone know how the crew is progressing toward their goal. Finally, the boat itself supports the whole team, keeps them together, and bundles their energies for maximum impact.

Differentiated Roles, Common Goals

A review of the differentiated roles within a collective impact initiative shed light on how direct service organizations can work with each to overcome barriers to progress.

The coxswain motivates and informs the crew, while coordinating power and rhythm. Without a paddle, the coxswain is reliant upon others to move the initiative forward. Applying this to the concerns of direct service organizations’ fear of losing identity, the coxswain’s voice rises above any communication of the crew members and, in doing so, reduces the individual brand voice for a collective message. The coxswain’s call also represents the importance of continuous communication which helps to build the trust needed for progress.

Direct service organizations without strong external linkages may ignore the message and find themselves far upstream from the public will, policy trends, and funding attractive to innovators from multiple sectors. This is supported by research that found some organizational cultures from a variety of sectors have stopped hearing the voices outside of their own isolated impact areas, which only perpetuates the problem (Schmitz, 2012). Continuous communication grounded in community reality is essential for both crew progress and direct service effectiveness.

Stern Pair

At the front of the boat are the stern pair who set the stroke rate and establish a rhythm for all others on the boat to follow. In some cases, these highly influential pacesetters are foundations, United Ways, or corporations that demonstrate early investment in the initiative. It’s also possible for the stern pair members to be direct service organization leaders that eagerly adopt and align.

For direct service partners not playing this role, accepting the rhythm from outside the agency’s hierarchy can impinge upon much-desired autonomy and independent identity. For others, resistance to change or slower-paced organizational culture may impede progress.

Bow Pair

At the bow end of the boat are the most technical members of the crew who set the balance for others with their data-driven focus that also enables smoother course corrections. Monitoring the progress of the crew against the plan includes a timely and honest assessment of current results with recommendations for speedy responses to better position the crew to meet the end goal.

As noted in Channeling Change, “fears about being judged as underperforming make it very hard to agree on common measures. Organizations have few resources with which to measure their own performance...” (Hanleybrown, Kania, & Kramer, 2012). Not surprisingly, shared measurement is regularly reported as a challenge for practitioners (Hanleybrown, Kania, & Kramer, 2012). For direct service organizations accustomed to competing for funding, the perceived vulnerability from changing from a proprietary model to open source for the sake of mutual accountability is daunting, but doable.

The Powerhouse

In the center of the boat working hard are the most robust, but least technical, rowers: the powerhouse.

Drawing strength from the inherent connections made through their community-building relationships, the powerhouse players are the direct service organizations who exercise their institutional capacity via mutually reinforcing activities that buttress the collective impact initiative. In addition to direct service organization staff, their partners, volunteers, and constituents also provide power for collective impact.

Overcoming the Challenges

Each member of the crew should recognize the power of collective impact to turn their individual efforts into a combined effort that together produces a greater result.

In order for individual agency programs to add up to aggregate change, direct service organizations need to embrace their important position in the boat and the need to switch their organizational cultures to reflect their new reality.

p.s. You want to know my response to the nay-saying whispers? My experience has been that more funding flows to those who choose to work together. Even more funding flows to those who start to succeed at working together better. And ultimately, our work is about changing lives, not claiming credit.





 

Want Greater Impact? Have a Conversation First

Posted Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 1:31 pm

This essay was originally posted to Philanthropy Northwest on April 2, 2014.

Collective Impact, philanthropy’s flavor of the day, has entered its back-biting season — a positive sign, given that push back is often a signal that a creative disruption is working. In this blog post, I’ll parse why the funder community has so enthusiastically embraced Collective Impact and how it has already produced learnings that we shouldn’t throw out when its season as the shiny new thing inevitably ends.

Above all, Collective Impact has helped us understand that deeply listening together into complex systems is the first step towards understanding our most intractable social problems. This directly challenges two of American philanthropy most persistent flaws: a preference for academic theory over front line engagement and a preference for the straight-arrow of “how-to” action planning over “what’s really going on here” iterative inquiry and dialogue.

Collective Impact’s second big contribution is elevating the role of evidence and data in designing strategy. Shared metrics and evidence-based practices have helped us realize that we can aim the buckshot of atomized funders, fragmented nonprofit providers and even personally impacted individuals towards a common solution. Acknowledging shared direction allows us to move to greater impact by creating a shared theory of change and benchmarks that transcend the personal and often-anecdotal frames that a marginalized and undercapitalized third sector has too often allowed itself to lapse into. When a community or a field defines “success” and endorses several promising pathways up the mountain, we establish a common road map that leads to greater alignment around shared direction. This increase in traffic and shared use in turn leads to more explicit, widely distributed rules of the road: evaluation and accountability measures.

This morning I read an article by Nicholas Kristoff on the progress the domestic violence movement has made over the last two decades. It upended the opinions and working assumptions I gained while serving as an interim executive director of a large domestic violence service provider. Kristoff writes, “Based on victimization surveys, it seems that violence by men against their intimate partners has fallen by two thirds since 1993. Attitudes have also changed as well. In 1987, only half of Americans said that it was always wrong for a man to beat his wife with a belt or a stick; a decade later, 86 percent said that it was always wrong.”

Kristoff goes on to recommend that “offenders should be required to attend mandatory training programs like the one run by Men Stopping Violence,” a position in direct opposition to the general disbelief in the possibility of offender rehabilitation I have seen reflected by local domestic violence leadership. And Kristoff doesn’t even begin to address the recent sea change away from building confidential domestic violence shelters to the new paradigm of keeping families and victims at home and in their communities while removing the offender.

Sometimes the need for service providers to maintain a case for ongoing funding support can muzzle evidence and outcomes. Or perhaps our shared narrative is so entrenched that we write off evidence that it’s wrong as exceptional or non-reproducible. Collective Impact has highlighted the need for us all to ground our shared strategies in evidence and proven intervention. By seeing ourselves as a network and understanding our roles in a shared system, we are forced to evaluate our practices against shared benchmarks for effectiveness, adding the calculus of “social benefit” to the warm fuzzy of “charitable intention.” Alignment is the secret sauce, the compass star whose shared direction is so essential in a system where 80% of foundations are run by volunteers with no paid staff and a system of nonprofit service providers which continues to grow exponentially and fragment into more and more independent and niche players.

“Attention is the purest form of generosity,” wrote Simone de Beauvoir. Alignment represents the outcome of a collective attention that gives us shared tools of evidence-based facts, theory and practice. If the essential argument behind Collective Impact is that problems are growing faster than community solutions can scale, then is it in fostering a stronger sense of shared purpose and emphasizing the value of explicit relationships that Collective Impact may provide its most lasting change. Practicing listening and the hard work of creating common language and movement through dialogue with representatives from all aspects of a system may create the boots-on-the-ground engagement needed that to correct for philanthropy’s  historical preference for white paper theories-of-change that too often encourage “doing to” rather than ”doing with.”

Article

Featured Story: The Road Map Project

This short story is about The Road Map Project's impact on closing the achievement gap in Seattle.

The numbers never lie – but sometimes they hide the truth. Consider: the rate of educational achievement in the Seattle metro region. In 2010, nearly half of all residents had earned at least a bachelor’s degree – a striking number, made all the more striking by the fact that nationally, only about 30% of Americans are college graduates. But dig a little deeper into the data, and you find that the region’s numbers are skewed by out-of-staters who move to the area. In fact, only about 25% of youth who came through the local public school system hold college degrees, and when we look solely at people of color, that number plummets to 10%. Stark statistics, stark truths – both of which are being confronted via collective impact.

The Road Map Project hopes to foster large-scale change by implementing a four-pronged approach: aligning cross-sector actors, engaging parents and community members in the development of solutions, building stronger and more seamless systems, and leveraging the power of data to fuel improvement. This last element has proven to be especially powerful to date. By harnessing the power of numbers, the Road Map Project has changed the conversation about education and catalyzed collective action. 

Stakeholders recognized early on in 2010 that focusing solely on Seattle and South King County’s high school students wouldn’t be enough to solve the underlying problem; instead, the Road Map Project adopts a “cradle to career” approach intended to double the number of students on track to graduate with a college-level credential by 2020 while simultaneously closing achievement gaps for low-income students and students of color. Having attracted high-profile local support for its mission (from, among others, the City of Seattle and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), the Project’s next step was to create a system of shared measurement. The initiative selected several indicators where progress can be tracked from year-to-year (or as often as possible), and are linked to student educational success.

With its indicators in place, the Road Map Project is able to leverage data in a number of ways. Most immediately, the data show whether students are meeting their achievement goals, and the strategies are continually reviewed and revised accordingly. The initiative goes further, however, in an effort to hold itself accountable to the Seattle and South King County community – it releases the indicators, and current progress toward those indicators, on the Road Map Project website and through an annual report. Publicizing the data has helped to spawn friendly competition between school districts: as one administrator has said, “we were seeing how other districts around us were doing…we don’t want to look worse than them.”

The numbers never lie – sometimes they highlight the truth. Even though the Road Map Project is early in its implementation, several gains have been made. Partners in the region collaborated to increase the number of students receiving the state’s College Bound Scholarship – giving students a free-ride to college – raising the number of eligible low-income students enrolled in the program to 93% in 2013, up from 53% just three years ago. In addition, in 2012, Road Map Project partners competed in the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top competition. Only two groups were awarded the maximum grant possible. The Road Map Project partners were one of them. The $40 million they received infuses the initiative with significant new funding – and it provides evidence that the Road Map Project finds itself on the right path.

Article

Featured Story: Partners for a Competitive Workforce

This short story is about Partners for a Competitive Workforce's impact on developing the workforce in Northern Kentucky, Indiana, and Cincinnati.

“We think of our role as being the gas and the glue.” With these few words, Ross Meyer, the former executive director of Partners for a Competitive Workforce (PCW), offers all current and future practitioners a fine conceptual model of what a backbone organization can be – in order to make a collective impact initiative all that it should be.

The gas: “we’re here to help accelerate the efforts – to accelerate the collaboration so that we can go farther faster.” PCW provides backbone support and leadership for a collective impact initiative of the same name, which formed in 2008 with the aim of closing the workforce skills gap in Northern Kentucky, Cincinnati and Indiana. As the backbone, PCW helps coordinate the efforts of more than 150 partner organizations in three states, keeping all stakeholders focused on their common agenda while helping to align worker development with employer demand. Since this alignment is constantly changing as gains are made, PCW makes a point of being highly flexible in regards to strategy, allowing it to achieve “quick wins” while simultaneously keeping the entire initiative relevant and vibrant.

The glue: “we are the backbone to hold all these efforts together.” Although PCW adheres closely to the five conditions of collective impact, it has found some of its greatest successes through its implementation of a shared measurement system – but these successes did not come easily, or quickly. Indeed, it took years for PCW just to get its partners to agree on outcomes, and to convince them that a continually-updated shared database would work to everyone’s benefit. Today, more than 100,000 client records are stored within that database, and PCW is not only able to look deeply into the data to see what types of services are leading to better outcomes, but also to see which interventions are coming up short, which allows successes to be built upon and roadblocks to be surmounted.

The gains: as PCW was beginning its work, fully 50% of area businesses were having difficulty finding high-quality talent in the local market, despite a regional unemployment rate approaching 9%. In the years since, nearly 6,500 workers have received training for in-demand jobs – and many of those workers have seen their annual income rise by as much as $9,000 per year.

“There are a lot of good things happening in our community. Our role is to provide leadership, resources and support” – and in so doing, a backbone organization allows its community to find its own solutions to its problems. Ross Meyer and PCW have laid the groundwork for future successes, and have proven how collective impact can change lives.

Article

Featured Story: Memphis Fast Forward

This short story is about Memphis Fast Forward's work to increase prosperity in Greater Memphis.

They were the days when walking in Memphis meant watching your back. In 2005, this home of the blues was one of the most dangerous and challenging cities in America: a place where violent crime rates were soaring, K-12 student achievement outcomes were abysmal, and government expenditure growth was outpacing tax revenue growth. Key stakeholders in Greater Memphis had no intention of standing idly by in a sinking city – local mayors knew these challenges needed to be addressed and overcome; local business leaders knew it too. The will existed – what was needed was the way.

Memphis Fast Forward (MFF) arose from the interaction of those mayors and business leaders, and from the very beginning, participants laid out a clear path toward building their collective impact effort. MFF’s 20-member cross-sector steering committee finds a common agenda in making improvements in five different focus areas: education, jobs and economic development, crime and public safety, health and wellness, and government fiscal strength. MFF’s key insight was that these five focus areas are inextricably linked – as one of its leaders points out, “you can’t move education along if you don’t also deal with neighborhood safety…you can’t have economic development and jobs if you don’t manage the workforce” – and improvements in one area would have a cascading, positive effect across the others.

MFF’s structure mirrors this insight. Each focus area constitutes its own initiative, with each initiative having its own distinct backbone organization. Each initiative then cascades further into a linked team of cross-sector partners who work together to implement the initiative’s plan. The leader of each of the five initiatives, meanwhile, sits on MFF’s steering committee, giving MFF a decentralized but linked management structure. The leaders of the five initiatives make a point to meet regularly, use data to inform their work, share knowledge and celebrate successes – and there have been many to celebrate: since 2005, MFF has helped spur the creation of more than 17,000 new jobs, has saved local city and county taxpayers more than $75 million via improvements in government efficiency, has contributed to a 23% drop in violent crimes, a 31% drop in property crimes, and has helped advance a suite of dramatic K-12 education reforms that has put Memphis at ground zero for national reform. As a result, in 2013, Tennessee was ranked #1 among all states in the nation for K-12 education gains per the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP).

Tonight, as the sun goes down over the bars on Beale Street, the notes will turn blue as performers sing the old songs – while outside, on the boulevards and the avenues, along the banks of the Mississippi, the people of Greater Memphis are writing their new future.

Article

Featured Story: Franklin County Communities that Care

This short story is about Frankin County Communities that Care's impact on youth substance abuse.

The place is Franklin County, Massachusetts. The year is 2003, and the kids are not all right. Teen substance abuse rates are disturbingly high, well above state and national averages: nearly half of all students between 8th and 12th grade are drinking alcohol; nearly 30% are smoking marijuana. Their parents, and their community, are putting their faith in a new initiative that they hope will turn the tide – and help their children heal.

The place is Franklin County, Massachusetts. The year is 2012, and the kids are doing fine.  Marijuana use is down nearly 30%, alcohol use is down 37%, and the number of teens who binge drink has been cut in half.  That new initiative, now a decade old, has proven its value to the community – and has proven the power of collective impact.

Founded in 2002, the Communities That Care Coalition (CTC) embraced the five conditions of collective impact from the very start, while understanding that implementation could be tailored to local realities and needs. CTC, for instance, has not one but two backbone organizations that jointly administer the initiative – a situation that CTC co-chair Kat Allen admits can at times be challenging, but it is one that she feels gives twice the credibility to the coalition: it makes the coalition a community endeavor rather than one agency’s project.

It is precisely this need to be flexible within the overall framework that informs Allen’s key insight as a practitioner: collective impact must be rigorous and disciplined, as well as organic and adaptive.  CTC finds a common agenda through its Community Action Plan – in Allen’s words: “there’s a policy, a program or a practice for everyone in our Plan…what is the piece that you can take on to make a difference?” The Plan moves the community forward by ensuring that all participants are focused on key outcomes that the coalition then measures and reports – namely, reductions in teen substance abuse and improvements in associated risk factors – but the Plan itself is seen as a living document, one that has been revised twice since 2005. Successful strategies are retained; unsuccessful strategies are amended; fresh strategies are introduced. It is complex and it is messy, but Allen would not have it any other way. Her advice: “embrace the mess, and make it work to your advantage” – your roadmap will be ever-changing, and your destination will draw ever-closer.

The place is Franklin County, Massachusetts. The year is 2013. CTC has been on this journey for 11 years – and its work is only just beginning.

Tool

Bigger Goals Toolkit, Ready by 21

This toolkit from the Forum for Youth Investment's Ready by 21 initiative is designed to guide members of a collective impact partnership to develop a common agenda, via shared goals and indicators, and a plan to achieve those goals. This toolkit also helps members to communicate more effectively with each other and their constituents by reaching mutual understanding of key terms that are commonly used by the various partners, and agreeing on the core messages of their effort. The process includes using both new and existing data, as well as input from other stakeholders and the public. Tools include dashboards to help assess community conditions and a guide to selecting community indicators, along with readings and other resources.

Bigger Goals Toolkit

What this is
Ready by 21© is a set of innovative strategies developed by the Forum for Youth Investment that helps communities and states improve the odds that all children and youth will be ready for college, work and life.

The Forum organized those strategies and the related goalsunder The Bigger Goals toolkit helps leadership groups establish a -­‐oriented vision for a community or state. It guides them to create a balanced set of goals and indicators; define the supports that the community or state must provide to the population that they aim to help; create a big picture, goal-­‐oriented action plan; and define common terms and communicate core messages.

How this Connects to Collective Impact
This toolkit is designed for a backbone organization to guide members of the partnership to:

  • Develop a common agenda, via shared goals and indicators, and a plan to achieve those goals.
  • Communicate more effectively with each other and their constituents by reaching mutual understanding of key terms that are commonly used by the various partners, and agreeing on the core messages of their effort.


The toolkit notes that establishing a common vision that conveys compelling goals is a critical step towards aligning efforts because common definitions and shared goals challenge leaders to work together more effectively to make a difference.