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Moving ‘Collective Impact’ From Buzzword To Reality


By- Kelly Seeman, Director of Operations at Unite Us

Organizations working together to drive and measure significant social change is a concept most of us can get behind, whether you are familiar with the collective impact initiative or not. For those of us who have supported this concept for years know it is essential to the No Wrong Door philosophy where all entry points for assistance are fully accessible when working collaboratively in our communities.

Collective Impact sounds fancy and difficult but what we have found is when you follow five key steps it can be accomplished. Collective Impact makes iteasierto provide services that are being requested In return, your organization, along with your community, can help more people.

According to a 2011 article in the Stanford Innovation Review, collective impact requires five key elements to achieve success:

1.Everyone involved has a common agenda for change: Understanding the problem and agreeing on shared solution.

2.Aggregating data and measuring result: Ensuring alignment and accountability through the aggregation of data and the sharing of results enables the identification of a change or pivot needed by an organization to best serve their community.

3.A plan of action: Outlining the path forward, coordinating with community partners, and sharing the plan with organizations supports the mutual reinforcement of activities needed to be completed for collective impact to be successfully implemented.

4.Open and continuous communication: This is needed consistently between all stakeholders in order to build trust, assure community objectives, and to create common motivation.

5.A backbone organization(s):This concept is not successfully implemented without buy-in from the community, including its staff and service category-specific skillset.

Why Collective Impact is a Buzzword

The collective impact initiative is popular among serving organizations but the actual implementation is only happening in a few communities. For it to work, organizations across a community at every level need to be committed to working together as a team and invested in the same short- and long-term goals. The steps are there and the need is known. So why can’t we start executing this today?
How Technology Changes the Game

One platform that allows organizations to send and receive electronic referrals, collaborate to ensure an individual is receiving the care they need and have requested, and create a community of support and trust has a direct and influential impact on the community at large. With the right technology tools and network design, collective impact can become a reality.

Through technology there is a higher degree of accountability and sharing of ideas. Data insights, both positive, negative and neutral help to identify what is and what is not working; enabling us to become proactive communities of care and identifies how we begin to achieve our collaborative goals.
Collective Impact in Practice

One of our partners, Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) is successfully applying a collective impact approach with itsCommunities of Practiceprogram. The initiative has transformed the way services and resources are delivered to Veterans and Military Families—narrowing in on local communities to create trusted, coordinated networks of care.

IVMF leverages the Unite US platform to align community and government-based resources to drive collaboration between organizations while increasing access to services requested. When communities of organizations are continuously working together the delivery of resources becomes streamlined, making them easier to find and connect to. IVMF (and organizations alike, within a network) can track case progress from the beginning of a request through the final outcome and using that information to advance the social, economic, community and policy for Veterans and Military Families.

A collective impact approach works because every service organization is communicating and fully invested in the process. Realize the trust, adoption and common agenda needed for change and advancement in your community and let the technology that is essential to solidifying trusted partners on a singular platform create a climate of transparency and progression.

Can you do more for the Veterans and Military Families in your community? Learn how Unite US technology can help.

About Unite Us

Unite Us is the nation’s leading software company bringing sectors together to improve the health and well-being of communities. We drive the collaboration to identify, deliver, and pay for services that impact whole-person health. Through Unite Us’ national network and software, community-based organizations, government agencies, and healthcare organizations are all connected to better collaborate to meet the needs of the individuals in their communities.

Topics: Culture