Too many organizations are working in isolation from one another.

Collective impact brings people together, in a structured way, to achieve social change.


  • It starts with a common agenda. That means coming together to collectively define the problem and create a shared vision to solve it.
  • It establishes shared measurement. That means agreeing to track progress in the same way, which allows for continuous improvement.
  • It fosters mutually reinforcing activities. That means coordinating collective efforts to maximize the end result.
  • It encourages continuous communication. That means building trust and relationships among all participants.
  • And it has a strong backbone. That means having a team dedicated to orchestrating the work of the group.

*source: Tamarack Institute

Collective Impact enables a group of organizations to address a major challenge by developing and working toward a common agenda that fundamentally changes population level outcomes in a community.  When successful, communities solve big complex challenges (e.g., youth unemployment, low graduation rates, poverty) or make substantial societal shifts (e.g., more sustainable food systems) by creating a shared multi sector understanding of the problem, a common vision and an action plan with shared measurements and reinforcing activities. 

Collective Impact initiatives aim to generate significant population level outcomes such as raising graduations rates by 10% points, cutting youth unemployment in a neighborhood in half, or doubling local food production and consumption. Achieving these outcomes requires sufficient participation of community members effected by the issue, community organizations, business and government leaders. Communities interested in implementing a Collective Impact approach should ensure that they have appropriate capacity including influential multi sector leaders engaged in the process; that the issue being addressed is considered urgent and important and that there are adequate resources to support implementation.  

In their Stanford Social Innovation Review paper called Collective Impact, John Kania and Mark Kramer of FSG Social Impact Consultants also identified five conditions for collective impact initiatives. Innoweave has adapted these five conditions to underscore the need for common outcomes goals and approaches:  

  • Community level outcome goals (Priority # 1)
  • A clear model of how to work together to achieve those goals  (Priority # 2)

Once defined, these are supported by:

  • Shared measurement of outcomes and leading indicators
  • Continuous communication and improvement
  • Backbone coordination and support

Collective impact generally requires the engagement of leaders from across different sectors of the community.  When bringing diverse leaders together, collective impact requires increased focus on the building of relationships and the use of data to inform and measure progress.

GROW Nova Scotia is using the Collective Impact 3.0 terminology and framework to develop GROW NS: School Food while working with Innoweave.