Snapshots from the Summit 2014 – Day 1


While “on the ground” at the Collective Impact Summit in Toronto this week, I’m happy to share quick highlights from sessions, keynotes, and from attendee learnings.


Our focus: Why Collective Impact and Why now?

We’re now at Collective Impact 3.0

  • Collective Impact 1.0 – Broad an diverse experimenting with CI approach
  • Collective Impact 2.0 – Frame the broad parameters and emerging practices
  • Collective Impact 3.0 – Deepen the practices, capacities, and ecology required

The two questions that matter:

  • Can it be effective?
  • What are the practices, capacities and enabling ecology behind the principles?


Melody Barnes of the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions presented the keynote on Monday, Oct. 6 on the topic of, “Collective Impact for a Changing World.”

Solutions to the problems facing America were not going to be found in Washington, but in local communities

  • Collective Impact provides the best available framework to understand, create, and implement change to complex community problems.
  • Even for problems we thought were intractable, it shows us a way forward.
  • Still believes in a role for government, but success will happen at the community level.
  • People have been doing collaborative work for generations. Collective Impact brings a greater level of discipline and focus to collaborative work.
  • The work of Collective Impact is about a new narrative for communities that positive change is possible
  • The work is fulfilling and rewarding but it’s also difficult and slow

We have seen the results!  We know that these strategies can work.

  • The Aspen Institute is committed to finding and sharing knowledge and best practices on a global scale through its partners FSG and Tamarack and through the Collective Impact Forum.
  • We are still in learning mode, and the framework is being refined through experience.
  • Engaging citizens and youth up front in these initiatives is absolutely critical.

Why now?

  • It’s important that we invest as building this field of practice
  • Building the field connects people and accelerates everyone’s work
  • Lessons from the rolling suitcase – Collective Impact is a form of collaboration for addressing intractable issues, but now there is also a readiness in the broader environment to tackle these issues.

Emerging questions

  • How to engage funders in this work?
  • How to get the right system leaders engaged in this work?
  • How do we get better at evaluation and policy change?


Throughout the Summit, attendees are adding their collective impact questions and thoughts to a growing “learning wall.” Questions posted so far include:

Timing & Process

  • When is the right time for collective impact?
  • If you can’t demonstrate change quickly, how do you keep funders engaged?

Thinking and Working Differently

  • How can you merge two or more mindsets?
  • What is the difference between Collaboration and Collective Impact?
  • CI is a commitment to small actions
  • Culture shift from competition to collaboration


  • How do we find the balance between adherence to the Collective Impact framework and allowing for innovation?
  • Rock the boat, but make sure no one goes overboard!
  • How do we keep everyone playing in the sandbox for the long term?


  • How do you convince people to buy in?
  • How do you get all the stakeholders to embrace the strategy?
  • How do we mitigate power dynamics?
  • Everyone has voice

Evaluation & Measurement

  • Measurement is important – How do we get the right data and evaluate it?
  • How do we agree on common measurements and keep it fluid if focus changes?
  • Discipline and aggregation makes for better data


  • How do we ensure “nothing about us without us”
  • If you are not at the table, you are on the menu
  • Everyone can find a role and make a contribution


Throughout the event, attendees are sharing thoughts, questions, and photos on social meda. To see what’s being shared, follow #CISummit2014 on Twitter.

Rachel ‏@rachelsmind
Are you ready for Collective Impact? Ask the right questions.  #CISummit2014

Karen McCullagh ‏@kmccullaghbgcc
#CISummit2014 That ah-ha moment when we shift from “what can I get out of this, to what can I give to this?” Paul Born @CIForumTweets

Jeff Loomis ‏@loomisyyc
Collective Impact is not new. The innovation is greater discipline for collaboration. @MelodyCBarnes #CISummit2014

Liz Weaver ‏@weaverworks
Government moves slowly + is partisan but needs to be at the #collectiveimpact table – they have levers to advance this work #CISummit2014

The Philanthropist ‏@Phil_journal
Role of philanthropy in #CollectiveImpact – funding that recognizes risk, incorporates data, understands the time it takes. #CISummit2014

Jillian Witt ‏@jillwitter
Who better to identify the cracks in the system than those experiencing them? #CISummit2014

Alison Robertson ‏@robertsonalison
Impossible to be community based without meaningful involvement with community members – @MelodyCBarnes #CISummit2014

Community Base Camp ‏@communitybcamp
Who advances and who survives? Those who are adaptively responding to the challenges we face. – #CISummit2014


If you are participating in the Summit, please share your highlights here on the Forum. We’d love to hear what’s resonating with you throughout the conference.


Snapshots from the Collective Impact Summit – Day 2

Snapshots from the Collective Impact Summit – Day 3

Snapshots from the Collective Impact Summit – Day 4

View from the Summit


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