We talk a lot about the importance of a backbone organization in collective impact, but moving from the conceptual idea of a backbone into making it a reality requires key decisions around three important pieces: size & structure, selection process, and funding sources.
The visual below outlines the key strategic questions any collective impact initiative must answer when going through the process of creating a backbone:
Implicit within these questions is a need to first have a basic understanding of how much it will cost to create and operate a backbone organization. How can a community fundraise for backbone infrastructure without having a rough budget in mind for how the money will be used? How can a community make key decisions on how many and what types of full-time employees the backbone should have without first knowing the cost implications of those choices?
The 3-Year Backbone Budget Scenario Analysis Tool is a new tool created by FSG in order to help answer that first, important question of how much will this cost. In our collective impact work, we often get the question, “How much would it cost for us to create a backbone organization for our initiative?” The answer is “it depends.”
It depends on a number of inputs, including number and type of full-time employees, salary ranges, various operational cost buckets, and level of shared measurement investment. This tool allows you, the user, to develop scenarios based on each of these considerations.
Please check out the tool in the CI Forum resource library. We hope this will be a useful resource for collective impact initiatives going forward, and please let us know if you have any questions or comments to share.