Eden Yesh: Collective Impact

Eden Yesh presented a workshop called Collective Impact–Theory and Practice. A case study in BC.

The PowerPoint Slides are here.EdethYeshPPTcover

Collective Impact Presentation – Eden Yesh Nov 28 14

Eden’s speaking notes are below.

Eden is the Community Development branch manager at Kootenay Employment Services Society, a 24yr registered charity dedicated to dynamic employment and community development services.

  • SFU – Sustainable Community Development certificate for professionals
  • Project delivery: Federal Working Solutions; Provincial TSSP
  • Community Conversations – project for regional common goal/project in Creston Valley
  • Collective Impact studies: workshops (Paul born); conference (champ4change); online studies
  • Community Investment Fund – business planning for rural CIF platform in Creston Valley
  • Today share my knowledge with you – in the hope that you can go home with a new method


SLIDE – Definition
“Collective Impact is a method of getting people to work together differently in pursuit of a clearly defined common goal. It brings funders, businesses, nonprofits and government together in a structured and deliberate way to achieve social change. It’s about working together to make effective use of the resources already within a system.”

It’s the opposite of isolated impact, projects only relevant to an individual organization.
** John Kania says: “Unlike its counterpoint – an isolated impact effort – which sees individual organizations in the social sector doing good work in an independent fashion, collective impact recognizes that the complex issues the social sector is trying to impact are well beyond the scope of any one organization or sector.”  John Kania – FSG

SLIDE – Flow

FLOW TO PRESENTATION SLIDE: here is how the presentation is structured………………


Three ways I’ll try to put Collective Impact into as relevant of a context for you:

  • First a brief history of civilization to give context to our current age
  • Second, in relation to Board Voice: specifically Community Boards in Action and Social Policy
  • Third, in relation to the last annual conference workshop presenter: Hildy Gottlieb




I read an article from March 2014 stating,
“The utter collapse of human civilization will be ‘difficult to avoid,’ NASA funded study says.

Study published in National Post, The Guardian and New York Times.

The study completed by NASA’s leading mathematicians were doing calculations about overpopulation and finite resources, as well as comparing the collapse of previous Civilizations (Romans, Mayans).

The study explains there are two things that constantly plague a collapsing society:

  • “ecological strain” (finite planet)
  • “economic stratification” (inequality)

First time, however, in human history that civilization is considered “global”.
Not just one Nation’s collapse. (Roman/Mayan)

But collapse brings crises, and crises bring immediate action and creativity; so there is always change ahead.

We all have an intuitive sense that the way the world is right now isn’t where it should be, where it could be.  Our institutions, governments and individual lives need to be enhanced.

For the next few minutes, I’m going to give a VERY brief history of human civilization, in the hopes to put into perspective the importance of working collaboratively, as opposed to isolated.

It will help us understand what humans have accomplished and where we’ve come, and perhaps answer where we need to go next…….

SLIDE – spiral

A great chart to visualize evolution of conciousness, knowledge, thought through human civilization.

Gives a general sense of where we came, to where we are now.
Keep in mind, each state of conciousness is within the individual, and we can move back and forward through stages thru our life.

Societies and culture are built from the sum of their individual units

Some peope and nations have moved throught these phases faster than others.
But in a large sense, here’s how we progressed:

Archaic (Tribal) conciousness

  • Age of the caveman: 250,000 BC – invention of spear
  • Hunter gatherer; nomadic. Spending waking hours in search of food.
  • Started moving from age of the cave man into tribes
  • Today: Bush tribes in New Guinea, Australia, Africa

Warrior consciousness

  • 10,000 BC – Birth of Agriculture – plough and animal domestication: First homesites
  • After self-maintanence (food); was taken care of; then followed self-preservation.
  • Tribes very territorial and invade other tribes; still have warrior conciousness in some nations
  • Elders held beliefs/traditions: youth were warriors; traditions passed through stories
  • Primitive humans early learned that groups are vastly greater and stronger than the mere sum of their individual units. Society was born, not of mere association of numbers, but rather as a result of the organization of intelligent co-operators.
  • Today: Warrior, extremists – ISIS

Traditional Consciousness (majority)

  • Seen as Religious fundamentalism or Extreme Nationalism
  • Big during age of empires and religious rulers.
  • Start of documenting beliefs and ideas to pass to others.
  • End of this stage was start of secularism (separation from church/tradition)
  • Philosophy and early scientific theory’s starting.
  • Printing Press (1400) helped leaps and bounds in knowledge sharing.

Modern Consciousness (majority)

  • Philosophy of striving for a better standard of living for the idividual – started with Greeks
  • Invention of the stationary steam engines and increase in AG productivity gave birth to the industrial revolution
  • Urban centers and middle class increased. Shift from working in rural areas to cities.
  • Modern science takes off. Proving historical theories.
  • Leisure time increased as labour was helped with the engines.
  • Culture starts shifting from values & traditions to manufacturing & materialism
  • Individual competitiveness and start of corporate culture – capitalism

Post Modern Consciousness (majority)

  • Always an intrinsic drive in humans to become better
  • Mass presence of corruption, splurging, environmental degradation, inequality, world wars.
  • United Nations Formed to promote international cooperation
  • Women’s equality, civil rights, environmental consciousness, cooperative and non-profit boom
  • Planes, trains and automobiles: becoming a global society
  • Start of breakdown of family unit; Both parents working; traditions and community fading.
    Easier to move from city to city to find work. Most kids now leave hometowns upon graduation
  • Invention of the computer; start of a new epoch;

Integral Consciousness

  • Each time we leap forward in civilization it’s usually with invention.
  • Personal computer: each individual has access to all of human’s knowledge at fingertips
  • This also gives us instant access to the “State of the world”; breaking news, markets, indicators
  • Recognition of personal responsibility for societies problems and power to make a difference
  • Find morality, balance and realistic approaches to our lives
  • The economic life becomes ethical.
  • Your race, your sex or your class in society does not decide how you can contribute anymore.
  • This phase of civilization is about taking the best of science, traditions, ethics and values – and working collaboratively to address the issues we face together as a species;
  • On a side note: technology has incredible opportunities, but does have it’s risks:
  • Losing a sense of culture and community by giving our time to screens vs faces; need balance.
    • Kids being raised by peers, television and internet (Youtube, Facebook), rather than family traditions and culture.

Post-Integral Consciousness

  • Who the heck knows! We’ve moved so fast in the past 200 years with the steam engine, car, airplane and computer.
  • We’ve been to the moon and back! We’ve proven we can create things.
  • The next 100, or 1,000 years challenges us to change internally.
    To use what we already have more efficiently and effectively.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” Einstein


Let’s use that brief overview of history as our background for the importance of collective impact in our day and age.


“Collective Impact is a method of getting people to work together differently in pursuit of a clearly defined common goal. It brings funders, businesses, nonprofits and government together in a structured and deliberate way to achieve social change. It’s about working together to make effective use of the resources already within a system.”

Collective impact is about bringing the best minds together to align each others actions in the most effective way possible. Whatever your pressing issue is.
It’s about changing the system, rather than isolated attempts at changing individuals.

Our societies and institutions have become highly complicated on far-flung interdependence:

  • Importing 95% of all food and goods
  • Social sector heavily relying on government funding
  • Unstable global economy

Collaboration at the community, regional and provincial level will be critical in the next 50 years.

Changing our culture in BC will require an elevation in each individual’s intellect:

  • executive directors,
  • boards memnbers
  • businesses and investors,
  • local and provincial governments
  • funding institutions.

It’s about trust and relationships between those in a position to make change.


SLIDE – quote
“We believe that a principled, well-developed social policy framework that builds common understanding, is pragmatic in delivery and is measured by outcomes can streamline delivery of critical services, improve the results for those who need it most and guide decision making into the future,”
Board Voice in a letter to city council.

Board Voice is doing a wonderful job in being a backbone support for collaborative changes.
Both in individual communities and at the provincial level.

  • Dedicated to improving social services increasing the health and well-being of citizens in BC.
  • Do this by connecting boards and executive directors together, sharing best practices and speaking as a collective voice to government.

Ten communities have created inter-board committees devoted to convening community conversations about improving their communities, with the view to creating projects that community boards can work on together. (Common agenda)

If you are involved in one of the Community Boards In Action, keep this collaborative structure in mind as we move through the conditions of collective impact.
It could very well enhance your existing network infrastructure.

SLIDE – quote

“Increasing evidence shows that social cohesion is critical for societies to prosper economically and for development to be sustainable,” the World Bank proclaims on its website.  “Social capital is not just the sum of the institutions, which underpin a society — it is the glue that holds them together.”
Vancouver Sun article Sept. 2014 – interview with Michael Davis (BV Chair)

They go on to say in the article that Board Voice’s pitch is unique in that it:

  • doesn’t call for the government to spend more money
  • just spend in carefully coordinated, better-targeted and more cost-effective ways

“Prevention is cheaper than cure, and simply breaking up bureaucrats’ fiefdoms and having them work together under a common framework, is an absolute no-brainer”

This collaboration at the government level would help create guidelines, principles, legislation and activities that affect the living conditions beneficial to human wellbeing.


SLIDE – Hildy

Finally, I’d like to put into perspective what was learned at last years annual Board Voice conference.

The workshop trainer was Hildy Gottlieb’s – on Creating the Future.

I watched her TED Talk and took out some key points relating to Collective Impact.

  • She says creating the future is about envisioning what it would look like; not focusing on the problems at hand.
  • The next step is to utilize a practice we all instinctively know called “reverse engineering”.
    • We see where we need to go (future) – we systematically figure out how to get there.
    • Example – flight yesterday at 5:50pm –
      • 5 hrs drive to airport
      • 30 mins to park,
      • Leave work at 3pm
      • Save everything for conference on computer, printing by 2:30pm
      • Pack the night before; etc., etc.
    • However, Hildy says we do not use “reverse engineering” enough in planning for the future of our organizations, or communities.
    • We become reactive, rather than proactive.
    • We become fearful to “stay afloat” rather than being creative and forward thinking.

What kind of community do we really want? (future) (common agenda/purpose)
What path will lead us there?


We’re fortunate in Canada, to have the freedom and supports to become leading examples of meaningful and effective change.

How do we be a leading example of change in BC, our slogan being “the best place on earth”!?

I believe deliberate cross sector collaboration is the answer, and many organizations are realizing this quickly.

And as you know, it starts from the communities upwards. The Collective Impact method can help mobilize and align the right players in each community to work effectively together on priority issues.

At a larger scale, collaborative networks can educate provincial and federal governments about what can impact the communities they are here to serve, in the most effective way possible.

From the bottom, up.

“Collective Impact is a method of getting people to work together differently in pursuit of a clearly defined common goal. It brings funders, businesses, nonprofits and government together in a structured and deliberate way to achieve social change. It’s about working together to make effective use of the resources already within a system.”

** John Kania says: “Unlike its counterpoint – an isolated impact effort – which sees individual organizations in the social sector doing good work in an independent fashion, collective impact recognizes that the complex issues the social sector is trying to impact are well beyond the scope of any one organization or sector.”  John Kania – FSG

5 Collective Impact Conditions – picture:

Foundation Strategy Group (NPO):
A mission-driven consulting firm supporting leaders in creating large-scale, lasting social change

Through research and project management; FSG defined what it takes for collective impact to be successful: coined the 5 conditions above; identified 3 pre-conditions and broke down
In 2011 – John Kania (managing director) was published in the Standford Social Innovation Review: Collective Impact – and the ideas really gained traction around the world – to differ general collaboration to deliberate collective impact.

Many organizations work in isolation from each other.

Collective impact is a structured system to achieve social change by bringing the overall community or region together to work on a common agenda

  • Different sectors look at the same issue in different ways
  • Agreeing on a common agenda takes some time

Once a common agenda strategy is reached, a backbone team will help the community develop a shared measurement system, encourage mutually reinforcing activities and continuous communication.


Before we dive into the 5 conditions of Collective Impact; there are 3 preconditions to consider.

In FSG’s research and project management, they identified three preconditions  which assess the readiness for collective impact work to begin on an issue.  They are:

SLIDE John Kania FSG credit

  1. An Influential Champion – An individual or small group who command the respect necessary to bring CEO-level cross-sector leaders together and keep them actively engaged over time. Perceived as “even-handed” and respected by their peers.
  2. Adequate Financial Resourcing – Adequate financial resources to last at least two to three years and generally involving at least one anchor funder to support needed infrastructure and planning.
  3. A Sense of Urgency for Change – A new opportunity or crisis that convinces people that a particular issue must be acted upon now and/or that a new approach is needed.
    Is the general public aware? Has it come to a breaking point yet?
  4. Persons who invite 10 people to a meeting and 8 will show up.
    Catalyzed by one or two champions.
  5. Funding to get things going, Convening meetings common agenda, resources for creating shared measurement system, funding for backbone support staff.

Funders regularly support direct service providers or advocacy organizations;
Not so often do they invest in infrastructure or wages to support collaboration between organizations.
Need visionary funders;

Enough money in the “system”, just redirection of some funding for collaborative work

  1. Crises bring people together quickly.
    If urgency isn’t there, and issue/opportunity only known by select few – it’s going to take longer.
    Need to educate the rest of the community of importance and changing system before crisis happens.


Now let’s dive a bit deeper into each of the five conditions that make up Collective Impact; keeping in mind, a backbone support staff will ensure the success and longevity of the first four.
Read out five quickly conditions.


SLIDE – pictures

Define the pressing issue or opportunity

Acknowledge that a cross sector approach is needed

Create clear and shared goals for change

Identify the values that will guide your work together

Coming together to collectively define the priority issue/opportunity and create a shared vision of what the future could look like.

This takes a group of cross sector champions to meet on regular basis and agree on strategies and an approach to solve the problem.
(HILDY: what is the future you envision – use reverse engineering to create the steps to get there)

TOP 100 Partners Exercise

If existing networks aren’t in place, this may take some time.
Trust and relationship building is key in this stage.
Breaking bread with others helps, so funding to host luncheons or dinners is a bonus.



  • Identify key indicators that capture important outcomes
  • Aim for 8-10 indicators max.
    (preschool readiness/high school grad rates; affordable homes/average income)
  • Agree on a system to gather data and monitor performance from each partner
    (email, online platform)
  • Set a common evaluation framework (every 6 months)

Agree to track progress in the same way (indicators):

  • this allows for continuous improvement and sharing best practices
  • what is each sector doing towards improving the agreed upon indicators

Use data over a length of time as a learning tool; track progress, share best practices and monitor changes in your indicators.

Examples of measurements



Aligning activity across sectors towards common goal

Look for duplication; opportunity to collaborate

Gatherings and celebrations

Make your structure visual

Coordinating collective efforts to maximize the end result.

Not looking to do the same activities as one another, but discuss how each other can align activities towards the common goal. For example:

  • NPO’s collaborating on projects;
  • governments adopting new policies;
  • funders supporting projects that align with the indicators;
  • businesses promoting common vision

SLIDE – picture
Visuals help! “Draw” a visual chart of your collective impact initiative:

SSI Review: Embracing emergence: How collective impact addresses complexity

  • Who are the partners?
  • What sectors do they belong to?
  • Who are the individual champions in each sector?
  • What programs, policies and funding streams are currently “in your system”?



Trust and working relationships build over time

What types of communication will you use?
Email, online platform, events, coffee chats

How often will you use each communication medium?

Have formal and informal ways to stay updated

Celebrate and publish accomplishments!

Issues are surfaced and worked on collaboratively

Sharing best practices between similar groups

Sense of community established.

Dozens or hundreds of partners communicating ongoing

  • sharing results and best practices
  • interpreting changes in indicators
  • inspiring each other to continuously improve towards common vision.

Should be easy for all populations to communicate within the system

Give credit away! Share success stories within the group. Media press releases.



  1.  Guiding Vision and Strategy
  2. Aligning and Coordinating Activities
  3. Creating and Supporting Shared Measurement
  4. Partnering in the Building of Public Will
  5. Advancing an Aligned Advocacy/Policy Agenda
  6. Mobilizing Funding to Support the Collective Effort

Sole focus is orchestrating the work of the partners involved in the collecting impact goal –
someone’s full time job.

An “off the side of the desk” approach is not sufficient for the success and longevity of system change

Important that funders understand the significance of the backbone support.
May take changes in the philosophy of their funding priorities.

Other four conditions (common agenda, shared measurement, mutually reinforced activities and continuous communication) cannot operate effectively without backbone support.

From my research, backbone organization staff levels:

  • (6-8 staff) – large metropolitan center dealing with hundreds of partners
  • (1-2 staff) – small city or rural region dealing with dozens of partners


Backbone Organizations…..

“Like a manager at a construction site who attends to the whole building while carpenters, plumbers and electricians come and go, the support staff keep the collaborative process moving along, even as the participants may change”
Jay Conner – Community Visions, Community Solutions: Grantmaking for Comprehensive Impact


FSG’s lengthy research and project management has found there are three phases to a Collective Impact effort.

SLIDE – Phases of C.I.

Phase I: Initiate Action,

  • Understanding of the landscape of key players and the existing work underway
  • Baseline data on the social problem to develop the case for change
  • An initial governance structure that includes strong and credible champions.

Phase II: Organize for Impact

  • Stakeholders work together to establish common goals and shared measures
  • Create a supporting backbone infrastructure
  • Start aligning the many organizations involved in the shared goals and measures.

Phase III: Sustain Action and Impact

  • Stakeholders pursue prioritized areas for action in a coordinated way
  • Systematically collect data
  • Put in place sustainable processes that enable active learning and course correcting as they track progress toward their common goals.


I’ve mentioned these already, but they’re so important I want to mention them again.

There’s some essential tangibles which underlies collaboration: relationship and trust building. Critical to the success of your efforts.

Be genuine, be respectful, celebrate with each other, break bread together, have a beer!


SLIDE – isolated vs collective

Part of the momentum of Collective Impact is due to the economic recession and the shortage of government funding that has forced the social sector to find new ways to do more with less.

For example; social enterprises and alternative funding solutions are on the rise.

Another appeal of collective impact is the realization that governments around the world are finding it more difficult to solve society’s problems. This means creating new alternatives to the change you want to see.

Collective impact is a new model

  • It creates space for collaborative action from the ground up
  • It shares best practices and celebrates great ideas between communities


SLIDE – Education

Strive Together: A National Movement to Improve Education for Every Child, From Cradle to Career

The Strive Together Cradle to Career Network is a national network of 53 community partnerships in 28 states working to improve education success for every child by bringing together cross-sector partners around a common vision. Together, the Network impacts over 5.5 million students nationwide.


SLIDE – Health


Shape Up Somerville: Building and Sustaining a Healthy Community with Collective Impact

Initiative Goal:To take a community-based, participatory, environmental approach to prevent obesity for the people who live in, work in, or visit Somerville.

IF there is time show 5 minute video: http://vimeo.com/97953387

SLIDE – Homelessness

Calgary Homeless Foundation dedicated to stopping what had been the fastest growing rate of homelessness in Canada;

  • They are implementing a 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness along with non-profit agencies, businesses, governments, the faith community, donors and all Calgarians.
  • The goal is to develop a more effective homeless-serving system that will end homelessness, instead of just managing it.
  • The foundation coordinates the overall system, funds and supports non-profit agencies, conducts research, oversees an information management system, owns housing and increase public awareness.


Tamarack: A Community engagement institute and the Canadian champion for Collective Impact.

One of their initiatives Vibrant Communities significantly reduced poverty levels in several Canadian cities.

They have a 10 year goal to eliminate economic poverty across Canada.

Work closely with FSG


SLIDE – c.c. logo

Community Conversations was an initiave by KES created to foster relationships and conversations between different sectors of people, and draw upon the intelligence of our local residents.

We were inspired to come to a common goal; specifically a project we could tackle as a community.

As Judy Pollard mentioned in the introduction today: Paul Born has been to the Kootenay’s numerous times to speak on the importance of Community Engagement. Specifically through community conversations.

At the Columbia Basin Trust symposium in 2013, Paul inspired a crowd of 250 ppl to look towards a common goal for our communities.

KES  took the lead and I became the project coordinator and facilitator.

The initiative was created and underway before we started to learn about the Collective Impact process, but there are many transferrable resources we gleaned from the initiative!

SLIDE – Overview of C.C. process – getting to a common goal in Creston, BC.

We focussed the monthly events around brainstorming two questions:

SLIDE  – If all things were possible what would you see in our region?

SLIDE  – What assets do we already have?


  • SLIDE – What happened
  • 7 months of events; brainstorming over dinner; 50-70persons each event
  • 1,000 ideas were generated; narrowed to top 300 specific project ideas (duplicates removed)
  • Final voting event, dinner and music; 240 persons; 3 rounds of ballots;
    • Top projects in each sector identified; common goal chosen (trails/recreation)
  • Funders event – 6 funders; 8 organizations presented
  • Common goal research and community champion steering committee;
    • government, individuals, nonprofits
  • Preparation for ongoing support to new trails society to champion project: lobby government to take action on trails and rec

SLIDE – transferable resources from Community Conversations

What resources developed from the Community Conversations process that are transferrable to the Collective Impact model?

  • Tust and relationships were fostered – 7 months of meals and brainstorming together
  • Capacity was built at KES to build momentum, convene and facilitate cross sector groups
  • Community champions were identified
  • Priority sectors were identified where residents wanted to see the most changes
  • A common goal/project was reached – trail to connect 3 communities (healthy community/trails and recreation needs)

SLIDE – Creating your database is key! I

It will keep you informed with your key people:

  • Who your champions are in the community
  • What sectors they represent
  • Which meetings they attended
  • How much influence they have in community: scale 1-5 (top 100 exercise Tamarack)
  • Updated contact info

I used Microsoft Access; free, simple and easy to tailor to what you need.

In Creston, we now have a database of 240 people who attended thenumerous Community Conversations events and voting.

There is momentum there, and the beginning of a strong and trusting relationship built between each other.

We’re exploring ways to move into a the full Collective Impact model now……



“We are all on a path, every last one of us, that path started long before we were a twinkle in anyone’s eye, and it is continuing long after we are gone; but the path ahead of us does not need to be a continuation of our past.”

I’d like to finish with the words Hildy Gottlieb used to sum up her Ted Talk, on Creating the Future.

When you can visualize the future and have created your path to get there:
you bypass fear and allow creativity to flow.

So again I’ll pose the question:

How do we be a leading example of change in BC, our slogan being “the best place on earth”!?

We must start at the Community level, and create relationships and trust with those who have the power to make changes. It only takes a few leaders to start an incredible movement.


Collective impact is one method to work towards positive systems change.

For the next 10 mins, arrange yourself into small groups of 6-8 people.

Use the following questions to stimulate discussions and link back the ideas of this afternoon, to opportunities in your own community.


What issue(s) do you feel is most pressing in your community?

  • Education; health; poverty; economy

What are the opportunities I see where the pre-conditions exist for a collective impact effort in my community?

  • Influential champion – Adequate financing – Sense of Urgency

Are there already collaboratives or networks in place in my community, in which I can see the collective impact ideas enhancing?

  • Do they include business, nonprofit, government and funder?

Which of the 5 conditions of collective impact is my community ready for? Why?

  • Common agenda; Shared measurement; Mutually reinforcing activities; backbone support

SLIDE – resources and slides contact info