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Collective Impact

Collective Impact
As we discussed in Week 1, the speed of increase in social problems far exceeds that of development of corresponding solutions. And the market mechanism, government system, and social sector showed their limitations. Even though business and entrepreneurship have been proposed as an alternative to address social problems, they cannot solve all the problems by themselves. Accordingly, people began to pay attention to the power of collaboration, which may yield collective impact as proposed by Kania and Kramer. Indeed Kramer is the one who proposed the concept of CSV with Michael Porter. One interesting example is ‘Shape up Somerville’ program. To reduce and prevent childhood obesity, Christina Economos, a professor of nutrition at Tufts University, took the initiative.
The program engaged diverse stakeholders in Somerville, Massachusetts, including schools, local businesses, NGO/NPOs, government officials, and community members in collectively defining the goals and and developing action plans. Schools provided kids with healthy foods, educated nutrition, and encouraged physical exercises. Local restaurants offered low-fat, high nutritional food. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts funded the program. The city office supported a farmers’ market and provided healthy lifestyle incentives; for example, discounted gym memberships for its employees. In addition, the city office modified and repainted sidewalks and crosswalks to prompt kids to walk more. As a result, statistically significant decrease in body mass index (BMI) among kids was observed.
Another interesting example is piloted by Mars, a manufacturer of world-famous brands such as M&M’s, Snickers, and Dove. Working collectively with NGO/NPOs, local governments, and even competitors, the company aimed to improve the lives of over half million cocoa farmers in Cote d’Ivoire, where it sources a large portion of its key material, that is cocoa. Accord to research, improvement in farming practices and plant stocks could lead to increased productivity and increased incomes of farmers, which will improve the sustainability of the company’s supply chain.
To this end, Mars coordinated diverse activities with its partners: the local government provide support to farmers, the World Bank financed new roads, and NGOs implemented programs to improve health care, nutrition, and education in the communities. These two examples show that not the isolated intervention of individual organizations but cross-sectoral coordination among private, public, and social sectors can better resolve serious and complex social problems, yielding large-scale social change or impact.
According to Kania and Kramer, there are five elements to make a collective impact. These include a common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and backbone support organizations.

How powerful is Collective Impact?

Cross-sectoral coordination among private, public, and social sectors can better resolve serious and complex social problems, yielding large-scale social change or impact.

Let’s look at five elements to make a collective impact through video.

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