Collective Impact Approach

The Atlanta Women’s Foundation’s goal is to support organizations that improve the lives of economically vulnerable women and girls in Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett counties. One of the ways we accomplish this is through grantmaking. In order to achieve the greatest impact with the funds AWF invests in the community, we have incorporated a Collective Impact Approach into our grantmaking.

This collective impact approach involves a structured process that leads to a common agenda, shared measurement system, and continuous communication among a cohort of grantees that provide direct services. The goal of the collective impact approach is to create large scale community change. AWF’s approach as a central connection for nonprofits has proven to be best practice and reliable in achieving exponential community impact. More than simply a new way of collaborating, collective impact is a structured approach to problem solving that includes five core conditions:

Common Agenda

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

Continuous Communication

Consistent and open communication is needed across the many players to build trust, assure mutual objectives, and create common motivation. Hosted learning convenings focus on key topics to develop deeper insights and understandings of challenging content areas across the community. These might include clients, systems leaders, subject matter experts, organization development professionals or government officials.

Shared Measurement System

Collecting data and measuring results consistently across all participants ensures that efforts remain aligned and participants hold each other accountable. The cohort develops a performance measurement system that tracks a set of early performance indicators and incorporates data from the initiative’s shared measurement system.

Shared Reinforcing Activities

Collecting data and measuring results consistently across all participants ensures that efforts remain aligned and participants hold each other accountable. Data collected through a shared measurement system can contribute to a variety of evaluation efforts. For example, quantitative data from the shared measurement system can complement qualitative data collected from interviews, focus groups, and surveys.

Backbone Function

Creating and managing collective impact requires dedicated staff with specific skills to coordinate participating organizations and agencies. The backbone function provides periodic and systematic assessments of progress attained by the various working groups and then synthesizes the results.

This collective impact model involves a structured process that leads to a common agenda, shared measurement system, and continuous communication among the cohort of grantees that provide the services. The goal of the collective impact approach is to create large scale community change. AWF’s approach as a central connection for nonprofits has proven to be best practice and reliable in achieving exponential community impact.