Change Language

What is Collective Impact?

Collaboration, Collective Impact: what’s the difference?

Collaboration is nothing new in Evanston. Our community is filled with examples of partnerships, networks, and other types of joint efforts. But collective impact is distinctly different. The collective impact model has had significant success nationally in moving entrenched social problems.  It is a structured way to pursue a shared goal.

Collective Impact initiatives, like Evanston Cradle to Career, develop when a critical mass of a community’s leadership from different sectors commit their organizations to a common agenda for solving a specific but complex social problem. Collective impact initiatives address the reality that given the complex nature of most social problems, no individual program or organization, however well managed and funded, can single-handedly create the lasting large-scale change needed to address the problem in question.

5 core elements make Collective Impact initiatives unique and successful:

Common Agenda

All participants have a shared vision for change including common understanding of the problem and a joint approach to solving it through agreed upon actions.

Shared Measurement

Collecting data and measuring results consistently across all participants ensures efforts remain aligned and participants hold each other accountable.

Mutually Reinforcing Activities

Participant activities must be differentiated while still being coordinated through a mutually reinforcing plan of action.

Continuous Communication

Consistent and open communication is needed across the many players to build trust, assure mutual objectives, and create common motivation.

Backbone Support

Creating and managing collective impact requires a separate organization(s) with staff and specific set of skills to serve as the backbone for the entire initiative and coordinate participating organizations and agencies. In Evanston, this is Evanston Cradle to Career.