Assessing Collective Impact: Insights from Our Fifth Annual Survey


Insights from Our Fifth Annual Survey

Earlier this year, the Collective Impact Forum gathered feedback through its fifth annual survey of members with online profiles. The purpose of this survey was to assess the Forum’s progress to date, to understand the current state of our members’ collective impact initiatives, and to collect input on topics of interest for our programming. Thank you to all who responded to the 2019 survey.

Overall progress to date:

The Collective Impact Forum’s online community has continued to grow, with an increase in membership by 19% since last year’s annual survey. We are now a community of about 28,600 active members spanning over 25 countries globally.

Consistent with previous years, the Forum has maintained influence in both practice and understanding of collective impact.

  • 83% of respondents reported somewhat or significant influence on practice
  • 92% of respondents reported somewhat or significant influence on understanding
  • 98% of respondents let us know that the Forum’s resources are useful and very useful
  • 61% of respondents shared Forum resources with a colleague.

State of members’ collective impact initiatives:

Many collective impact initiatives are seeing results in early changes, systems changes, and long-term impact on target populations.

  • 63% of respondents reported that their collective impact efforts have resulted in early changes including increased collaboration between partners and increased issue awareness.
  • 40% of respondents have seen their collective impact efforts result in systems changes such as changes in practices, relationships, mental models, and resource flows.
  • 24% of respondents have even noted long-term impact on target populations often focused on population-level outputs for issue-specific measures, an increase of three percentage points from last year’s survey.

For more information about defining and applying the concept of systems change, check out our virtual coffee “The Six Conditions of Systems Change” a webinar held in partnership with the Collective Impact Forum, FSG, and New Profit.

We also asked respondents about implementation of the collective impact Principles of Practice this year. Compared to last year’s survey, a greater share of respondents now say that they “customize their collective impact initiative for local context” (with a year-over-year increase of six percentage points for those implementing this practice “very much”). On the other side of the spectrum, “cultivating leaders with unique system leadership skills” and “using data to continuously learn, adapt, and improve” continue as the least implemented principles of practice.

One of the plenary sessions from the 2019 Collective Impact Convening featured a discussion on “Supporting a Culture for Emerging Social Change Leaders.” Check it out to understand some key considerations for cultivating systems leaders.

Our virtual coffee chat with Home For Good, a community-driven initiative to end homelessness in Los Angeles County, focused on “Using Data and Shared Measurement in Collective Impact.” Check it out to learn how gathering and sharing data through public dashboards allows their initiative to work collaboratively on systems and solutions to end homelessness.

Topics of interest:

Survey respondents highlighted priority topics that the Forum should address in future convenings, webinars, and other resources. These top three topics are consistent with the themes we have heard in prior years’ surveys:

  • Community Engagement: Authentically engaging those with lived experience by ensuring that community members more actively contribute to and co-lead a collective impact initiative
  • Leadership: Developing the system leadership capacities needed to work on a collective impact approach (e.g., seeing the larger system, fostering reflection with partners, and co-creating with others)
  • Evaluation: Understanding how to evaluate collective impact initiatives at various stages

For more on these topics, check out the Community Engagement Toolkit, The Dawn of System Leadership, and the Guide to Evaluating CI. The topics above are also among the central themes that will be covered at the 2020 Collective Impact Convening on May 6-8 in Minneapolis. Other upcoming event details are available on our Events page.

Respondents also noted that additional shareable media and examples of successful initiatives would be very valuable moving forward. Our existing toolkits and resources can be found here and we have a growing library of video content on our Youtube Channel. In the coming months, we will also share new case studies with a few initiatives which were featured in the research study “When Collective Impact Has an Impact.”

Thank you again to those who completed the survey. For the fifth straight year, your feedback has provided valuable insights on the Forum’s work and needs in the field.

What do you think? Do you have any other suggestions or feedback for us to better support the collective impact field?


Sign Up to Download

You will also receive email updates on new ideas and resources from Collective Impact Forum.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Confirm Your Registration

You will also receive email updates on new ideas and resources from Collective Impact Forum.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.