What Can Collective Impact Learn from Organizing?

by | Aug 17, 2017 | Formation, Poverty: Analysis and Responses

Two strategies. One goal. Community Organizing. Collective Impact.

Older folks will remember community organizing. Confrontational — but it got things done. For the past ten years, the “collective impact” strategy has moved to the fore. But the two can learn from each other.

Three aspects are worth considering:

1. Community organizing is not just about “solving a problem” but it is about developing leadership to achieve structural change over time.

One of the criticisms of the collective impact model is that it doesn’t spend enough energy on the development of grass roots leadership. This can often lead to only short term gains.

2. Emphasizing the power of “story” and “narrative”.

Collective impact strategies are rightly concerned with measurement and data. But powerful information for transformation is sometime better captured in stories. A wedding of story and data can produce a powerful effect.

3. “Conflict is the midwife of change.”

In its efforts to build partnerships, collective impact is often conflict-averse. But conflict is not always a bad thing. Conflict arrises sometimes through misunderstanding. Resolving the conflict can produce new insights that may have remained hidden.

Read more in depth about these three aspects in Jennifer Splansky Juster’s brief article at the Collective Impact Forum.