Nonprofit organizations play a vital role in the maintenance of a healthy community. They have the all-important task of being the catalysts of a concept the Stanford Social Innovation Review has coined as “collective impact.”
By Kendall Norris, Global Leadership Forum
Far more than a collaborative effort, collective impact, or the intentional commitment of a group of key change agents to solve a specific social problem, involves a strategic agenda.
Further, it incorporates determined staff, a centralized infrastructure and an agreed upon process understood and shared by all entities involved. On the surface and at its core, collective impact sounds like the definition, motivation, and mission of what nonprofits are – or, at least what they should be. What has been proven over time is that nonprofits, generally speaking, do not operate this way.
Most choose to operate in their silos serving their target demographic, focusing solely on growing programs and influence within their target demographic. Many nonprofits admittedly do not contribute to broad, systemic, transformative change. Why? The task is virtually impossible for one organization to do by itself.
In order to affect systemic, transformative social change, nonprofits have to be able to mobilize all sectors of society, including government, business, public, and other nonprofit organizations. Put plainly, systemic change requires participation from all of the players in a community.
The impact of the change can then be determined by how the collective mobilizes its forces, who they sit at the table, and how those key players communicate. The only impact partners that can catalyze and effectively implement change are nonprofit organizations, and there’s a simple reason why.