Collective Impact Resources | NAAEE

The hub for environmental education professional development

Collective Impact Resources

To kick off the discussion following Nicole Ardoin's webinar on collective impact yesterday, I'll begin with two general questions we received during the webinar. Any and all are welcome to respond! Zahra Golshani asked: What are some good published guidelines on collective impact you would suggest to start with?
John Strawbridge asked: What are some sources of grant money or other funding that we can apply for if we need funds for staff and operations that local organizations (like school districts and cities) are unwilling to pay for?

Great talking with all of you! Yes, Zahra, there are many resources and guidelines that discuss Collective Impact. To go straight to the source, I'd recommend looking at the original article(s) by FSG and Kania and Kramer. Those, along with a handful of related articles, are posted on the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) site: You might also want to check out this terrific Australian site, called Collaboration for Impact:

With regard to funding, I think that a Collective Impact (or a collaborative, synergistic) approach offers interesting opportunities as it can be considered a K-12 effort, OR it can be considered within a broader frame as a social change movement. Leveraging that "social change" framework might open the door to different funders than those who traditionally focus on the educational space. These might be funders focused on, for example, civic engagement, community revitalization, or health/wellness, among other areas. Similarly, a range of sectors might be represented among the Collective Impact partners--and this collaboration with government agencies, nonprofits from different sectors, and corporate partners, for example, might open avenues to different, unusual funding opportunities.

Hi Nicole,
Thanks for providing the webinar. I was interested to see that many webinar participants indicated they have experience with collective impact projects, and would love to hear more about peoples' experiences.

One thing I wanted to add to the list you presented of influential factors in the success of collective impact efforts is the presence of ongoing institutional support. Having coordinated two of these efforts in recent years, I've found that - even when the base of support exists (e.g., grant funding, dedicated staff) it doesn't necessarily guarantee ongoing participation by partners. Institutional priorities change, staff come and go, and without consistent support from institutional leadership, commitment can start to wane. I've tried a number of approaches towards securing this consistent high-level support - some more successful than others - but would love to hear what others have experienced.

Hi, Kathryn: You have raised a great point. Keeping the energy going around collaborative efforts can be challenging. I think this relates to the importance of the commitment reaching beyond a single individual and really being at the organization-to-organization level. Of course, individual champions are important, but having the organizational members of collaboratives feel like (and recognize that) there are benefits to be gained from a collaborative approach that can only accrue through working together, rather than working individually, is key. "Wins" in terms of collaborative programs, as well as policy initiatives that require a collective voice, can be just a few of the ways to coalesce diverse partners and demonstrate the importance of these collaborative efforts. Also, I have seen collaboratives whose energy may be waning get a new injection of energy and enthusiasm when working on shared grant-funded activities; just the process of dreaming up collaborative activities and then pursuing joint funding that may support synergistic efforts seems to offer that "boost" that you are describing. I am eager to know if others have suggestions or thoughts on this as well.