Achieving Collective Impact

The Five Conditions of Successful Collective Impact

Collective Impact is a five condition approach to solving complex societal problems using the effective communication between and alignment of partner organizations. The Collective Impact approach has been used by governments and non-profits alike to create measurable improvements in people’s lives.

The five conditions of Collective Impact are:

  • A Common Agenda: The use of population Results and Indicators provides a clear, practical and measurable way of articulating a common agenda for a community.
  • Shared Measurement System: Defining performance measures for each community partner that clearly align with the Common Agenda (Population Results and Indicators) provides the information needed to make decisions and revise strategies going forward.
  • Mutually Reinforcing Activities: Collecting data is only half the battle. Transparency in your planning can help you to use data to make decisions and guide your strategies to improve.
  • Continuous Communication: Communication, not just between partners but also with funders and the public, is a key component to any successful Collective Impact initiative.
  • Backbone Support Organization: A backbone organization provides the supporting infrastructure for a Collective Impact effort and is a facilitator of a highly structured data-driven decision making process.


Community organizations nationwide are in search of methods that help them achieve measurable results for the children and families they serve. Sometimes these organizations seek like-minded partners in order to reach common goals. Partnerships are formed. Meetings are held. But to what end? Too often, these meetings are held without a clear, common, and measurable result in mind. Over time meeting attendance falls and partners end up falling short of achieving their goals.

What causes these well-intentioned efforts to flounder? Perhaps what the members thought was a common purpose was actually more of a general idea – one open to multiple interpretations. When this happens, collaborative efforts are likely to fail. Without a common vision measurable results are unlikely to occur.

Diverse Collective Impact Group

So how can partnered organizations align their efforts to achieve results? What are the necessary components for greater community impact and sustained change? In “Collective Impact,” an article in the recent issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, John Kania and Mark Kramer explain how commitment from a group of partners from different sectors can result in a common agenda for solving a specific social problem.” The authors further argue “Large-scale social change requires broad cross-sector coordination.”

The Results-Based Accountability™ (RBA) framework has been successfully used by community, state, national and international organizations working towards Collective Impact. Developed by Mark Friedman and detailed in his book Trying Hard Is Not Good Enough, RBA provides a “disciplined way of thinking and taking action that can be used to improve the quality of life in communities,” as well as “the performance of programs, agencies and service systems.” Application of the core components of RBA enables organizations and communities to put each of the “Collective Impact” conditions into operation, helping these groups to turn ideas into action.

FREE E-BOOK: Achieving Collective Impact with Results-Based Accountability

Download this free e-book to learn how the RBA framework can help you to meet the five conditions of collective success including creating a common agenda, creating a shared measurement system, create mutually reinforcing activities, maintain continuous communication, and align with a backbone support organization.

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Achieving Collective Impact Whitepaper


If your community has begun the journey to align resources around specific outcomes, you may want to explore – as a growing number of communities have – the power of increased community engagement through the combined application of RBA and Collective Impact. These complementary frameworks have the potential to unlock an abundance of resources to truly make a difference and change community conditions for the better.

Clear Impact can provides support, tools, and training to help organizations and communities effectively create measurable improvement for children and families.

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“For us, Clear Impact helps keep how we’re moving at the front of the conversation as well. We can use their tools to pull it up at the front of a meeting and begin talking about what is the progress that we’ve made toward these results so far and where are areas of improvement. The Scorecard itself, particularly in being able to tell the story behind the curve, has been critical.”

JaNel Jamerson, Director, Flint and Genesee Literacy Network

Our Collective Impact Customers

Campaign for Grade Level Reading

Living Cities

Promise Neighborhoods Institute

Coalition for New Britain’s Youth

Northside Achievement Zone

Bridging Richmond

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