Social Change Insights from Our Fourth Annual Survey


Earlier this year, the Collective Impact Forum gathered feedback through its fourth 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 2018 survey.

Overall progress to date:

The Collective Impact Forum’s online community has continued to grow, with an increase in membership by 35% since last year’s annual survey. We are now a community of about 24,000 active members spanning over 25 countries globally.

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

  • 85% of respondents reported somewhat or significant influence on practice
  • 93% of respondents reported somewhat or significant influence on understanding
  • 97% of respondents let us know that the Forum’s resources are useful and very useful
  • 72% 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.

  • 65% of respondents reported that their collective impact efforts have resulted in early changes including increased collaboration between partners and increased awareness of the issue.
  • 41% of respondents have seen their collective impact efforts result in systems changes such as changes in policy, resource flows, and mental models.
  • 21% of respondents have even noted long-term impact on target populations often focused on population-level outputs for issue-specific measures.

For more information about defining early, systems, and populations changes, check out ORS Impact and Spark Policy Institute’s recent study “When Collective Impact Has an Impact” introduced in a blog post here by the Collective Impact Forum’s Executive Director, Jennifer Splansky Juster.

We also asked respondents about implementation of the collective impact Principles of Practice this year. Respondents noted that some principles have been less readily implemented, including “cultivating leaders with unique system leadership skills” and “using data to continuously learn, adapt, and improve.” Additionally, “recruiting and co-creating with cross-sector partners,” “building a culture that fosters relationships, trust, and respect,” and “customizing for local context” have been implemented the most consistently.

Vu Le, Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps, addressed some honest and practical ways of prioritizing equity and other aspects of the collective impact principles of practice in his keynote at the 2018 Collective Impact Convening titled “Beyond Seats at the Table: Equity, Inclusion, and Collective Impact.” We recommend checking out this link if you’d like to learn more.

Topics of interest:

Survey respondents highlighted priority topics that the Forum should address in future convenings, webinars, and other resources:

  • Capacity Building: Supporting the development of grantees’ skills for effective collective impact engagement (e.g., collecting, analyzing, and using data; collaborative mindsets)
  • Community Engagement: Authentically engaging those with lived experience by ensuring that community members more actively contribute to and co-lead a collective impact initiative
  • Evaluation: Understanding how to evaluate collective impact initiatives at various stages
  • Equity: Bringing an equity lens to collective impact by creating the conditions that enable just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential
  • 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)
  • Sustainability: Addressing sustainability challenges for collective impact efforts

In response to this input, the topics above are among the central themes that will be covered at our 2018 Champions for Change workshop on October 16-18 in Los Angeles and 2019 Collective Impact Convening on May 14-16 in Chicago. We have also addressed (and will continue to discuss) many of these topics through our free Virtual Coffee Series offered this Summer-Fall 2018 season. Recordings for past sessions can be found in our Virtual Coffee Archives, with upcoming session info available on our Events page.

Respondents also noted that continued trainings and tools as well as further opportunities to connect would be very valuable moving forward. As noted before, the Collective Impact Forum will continue to provide free Virtual Coffee sessions featuring collective impact practitioners. In the coming months, we will also provide peer-to-peer mentorship opportunities, virtual coaching sessions with Collective Impact Forum staff and advisors, and more customized coaching and technical assistance for collective impact pracitioners.

Thank you again to those who completed the survey. For the fourth 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?


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