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Collective Impact: Backbone Organizations

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1 Collective Impact: Backbone Organizations
Session for: CMF / MNA Conference October 8, 2012

2 FSG Overview FSG Overview Nonprofit consulting firm specializing in strategy, evaluation and research with offices in Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, DC, Geneva, and Mumbai Partner with foundations, corporations, nonprofits, and governments to develop more effective solutions to the world’s most challenging issues Recognized thought leader in social impact, philanthropy and corporate social responsibility Staff of 100 full-time professionals with passion and experience to solve social problems Advancing Collective Impact via publications, conferences, speaking engagements, client projects

3 FSG and Collective Impact
FSG Is Playing a Leadership Role in Accelerating Collective Impact Approaches to Solving Large-Scale Social Problems Client work in Collective Impact: FSG understands how to enable and sustain cross-sector partnerships through our work with clients in the following sectors: FSG articles paved the way for Collective Impact: Leading Boldly (2004) Breakthroughs in Shared Measurement (2008) Catalytic Philanthropy (2009) Collective Impact (2011) Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact Work (2012) Economic development Education reform Environmental sustainability Juvenile justice Teen substance abuse Public health

4 There Are Several Types of Problems
Introduction to Collective Impact There Are Several Types of Problems Simple Baking a Cake Sending a Rocket to the Moon Complicated Complex Raising a Child Simple Problem: The right “recipe” is essential but once you’ve discovered it, replication will get you almost the same result every time Complicated Problem: The right “protocols and formulas” are needed, as are high levels of expertise and training – experience is built over time to get to the right result, which can be repeated over time with the expectation of success Complex Problem: There are no “right” recipes or protocols that work in every situation. There are many outside factors that influence the situation, and every situation is unique. Experience helps, but in no way guarantees success The social sector often treats problems as simple or complicated Source: Adapted from “Getting to Maybe”

5 Introduction to Collective Impact
Traditional Approaches Are Not Solving Our Toughest—Often Complex—Challenges Funders select individual grantees Organizations work separately and compete Evaluation attempts to isolate a particular organization’s impact Large scale change is assumed to depend on scaling organizations Corporate and government sectors are often disconnected from foundations and nonprofits Isolated Impact Source: Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact Work, 2012; FSG Interviews and Analysis

6 Isolated Impact Collective Impact
Introduction to Collective Impact Imagine a Different Approach—Multiple Players Working Together to Solve Complex Issues All working toward the same goal and measuring the same things Cross-sector alignment with government, nonprofit, philanthropic, and corporate sectors as partners Organizations actively coordinating their action and sharing lessons learned Isolated Impact Collective Impact Collective Impact recognizes that no single organization is responsible for a major social problem, so no single organization can cure it Source: Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact Work, 2012; FSG Interviews and Analysis

7 Mutually Reinforcing Activities Continuous Communication
Five Elements of Collective Impact Achieving Large-Scale Change through Collective Impact Involves Five Key Elements 1 Common Agenda Common understanding of the problem Shared vision for change 2 Shared Measurement Collecting data and measuring results Focus on performance management Shared accountability 3 Mutually Reinforcing Activities Differentiated approaches Coordination through joint plan of action 4 Continuous Communication Consistent and open communication Focus on building trust 5 Separate organization(s) with staff Resources and skills to convene and coordinate participating organizations Backbone Support Source: Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact Work, 2012; FSG Interviews and Analysis

8 CI across Issue Areas The Collective Impact Approach Can Apply to Solving Many Complex Social Issues Education Health Homelessness * Youth Development Economic Development Community Development * Collective Impact can be applied to various issues * * * Indicates FSG Client

9 Implementing Collective Impact
Collective Impact Is Best Structured with Cascading Levels of Collaboration, with the Backbone Playing a Critical Role Common Agenda Shared Measures Steering Committee Governance, Vision and Strategy Backbone Working Groups Action Planning Talking Points: Role of Steering Committee - TBD Role of Working Group- TBD Role of Partners- TBD Role of Community Members- TBD Role of Back Bone, see next slide Partners Implementation Community Members Public Will Source: FSG Interviews and Analysis

10 It Is Not Always Easy to See the Value of Backbone Organizations’ Work
Key Learning It Is Not Always Easy to See the Value of Backbone Organizations’ Work The Role of Backbone Organizations Is Often Described with a Metaphor… “(They are) kind of like the quarterback—doesn’t end up in the end zone, but they’re the ones handing it off, making a pass or calling a different play if the defense looks different.” “I’m at a lot of events with people in the know who don’t understand what these backbones do. But they are doing what they are supposed to do—the work behind the scenes. They both fill a role that, if it weren’t for them, no one would be pushing certain items.” “They are an umbrella that can say, ‘this is an issue, let’s address it together.’” “They serve as the voice for early care and education and bringing issues to the tables to funders that may not otherwise be heard.” “(The backbone) has also formed a bridge between early childhood agencies, corporate leaders, and funders.” Source: FSG interviews

11 (Needs / Assumptions and Goals) (Initiative Outcomes)
Theory of Change Effective Backbone Organization Leadership Is Critical to Collective Impact Success Why we collectively are taking action (Needs / Assumptions and Goals) What we are doing to address the issue (Activities) Early indications that our activities will lead to change (Backbone Outcomes) The change we collectively hope to see if we are successful (Initiative Outcomes) Isolated Impact Guide Vision Support Alignment Shared Measurement Build Public Will Advance Policy Mobilize Funding Partners Initiative Community

12 Backbone Organizations Come in a Variety of Types
Types of Organizations That Could Serve as Backbones Funders New or Existing Non-Profits Government Agencies and Other Intermediaries Private Sector Multi-Organization Initiatives Strong and Adaptive Leadership Sustained Funding and Resources Core Requirements to be a Successful Backbone Organization* High Credibility in the Community Dedicated Staff Ability to Be a Neutral Convener * These skills can exist within a single organization or within another organization in the effort Source: Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact Work, 2012; FSG Interviews and Analysis

13 Backbone Organizations
Backbone Organizations Are Critical to Any Collective Impact Effort—And They Perform Six Major Functions Guide Vision and Strategy Build a common understanding of the problem Provide strategic guidance to develop a common agenda Convene key external stakeholders to do mutually reinforcing activities Facilitate communication and collaboration Catalyze or incubate new initiatives Support Aligned Activities Collect, analyze, interpret, and report data Catalyze or develop shared measurement systems Provide technical assistance for building partners’ data capacity Establish Shared Measurement Practices Build Public Will Build public will, consensus, and commitment Create a sense of urgency and articulate a call to action Support community member engagement activities Advance Policy Advocate for an aligned policy agenda Mobilize Funding Mobilize and align both public and private funding to support goals Backbones must balance the tension between coordinating and maintaining accountability, while staying behind the scenes to establish collective ownership Source: FSG Interviews and Analysis

14 Phase of Collective Impact Initiative
Key Learning Among Different Backbone Organizations, Organization-Specific Challenges Add Nuance Among the backbone organizations… Phase of Collective Impact Initiative Phase I Initiate Action Phase II Organize for Impact Phase III Sustain Action & Impact Organizational Capacity $ $ $ Scope of the Vision and Strategy and / or Geographic Reach Vs. Organizational Structure/ Parent Organizations

15 Backbones Typically Require At Least Three Key Staff Positions
Backbone Organizations Backbones Typically Require At Least Three Key Staff Positions Illustration of a Backbone Structure: Project Director Data Manager Facilitator(s) Leadership Oversees effort Advises Steering Committee Manages accountability Manages working groups/networks Communication Reports data Shares data for use Connects working groups/networks Critical Thinking Addresses complex issues Planning Leads vision, goal, strategy setting Plans data collection, data sharing Aligns partners to implement Embracing Change Champions change at senior level Provides data to help change occur Champions change in groups Teamwork Listens, reinforces senior collaboration Partners with data providers Helps community partners align Source: Adapted from Strive Network

16 Backbone Organizations
Every Backbone Needs Funding for its Activities; a Backbone Organization Likely Requires an Annual Budget of ~$3-400K Illustration of a Backbone’s Budget: Expense Category Budget ($) Description Salaries 80,000 1 FTE Executive Director 55,000 1 FTE Facilitator 65,000 1 FTE Data Manager 25,000 .5 FTE Administrative Support Benefits 45,000 At 20% of salaries Professional Fees 90,000 Consultants, R&E, Web Travel and Meetings 16,000 Workshops, events, retreat Communications Reports, collateral, media Technology In kind hardware, software, IT Office 3,650 In kind/paid rent, utilities, supplies Other 1,000 Staff training, miscellaneous Total Expenses 425,650 Covered by grants and fees Source: Adapted from Strive Network

17 Effective Backbone Leaders Share Common Characteristics
Key Learning Effective Backbone Leaders Share Common Characteristics Stakeholders describe backbone organization leaders as: Visionary Results-Oriented Collaborative, Relationship Builder Focused, but Adaptive Charismatic and Influential Communicator Politic Humble “Someone who has a big picture perspective—[who] understands how the pieces fit together, is sensitive to the dynamics, and is energetic and passionate.” Source: FSG interviews

18 Group Discussion In Small Groups, We Will Discuss the Collective Impact Model and the Role of the Backbone Organization Discussion Questions What do you see as the benefits to the community in taking a collective impact approach? In your table’s topic area, what challenges exist that prevent the community from being able to make progress in this area? What role does the backbone organization play in advancing work in this topic area? What should happen next? Given your role in the sector, how do you participate?

19 Thank You! To talk more with FSG about Collective Impact: John Kania
Collective Impact resources available on FSG’s website:

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