Why Isolated Impact Isn’t Working

Guest post by Emily Boyd, Neighborhood Engagement Coordinator for Community Housing Initiatives, Inc. 

EmilyBoyd_VIVA.jpgIn the nonprofit world, we’re constantly trying to find ways to implement our mission. We fulfill our mission by offering programs, gathering important data for policy changes, advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves, creating meaningful solutions and more.

At times, we see collaborations among nonprofits for noteworthy events and networking opportunities to share new programs and services available: But are those things making long-term impacts? Are you seeing the needle move in your field?

A workshop titled Facilitating Collaboration: Strategies and Tools for Shared Success was offered earlier this year by The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines. The main point was that single organizations cannot address complex social issues alone. It takes a group of organizations from various fields and passionate individuals who are willing to come together to tackle an issue.

A popular example is Strive, a collaborative group operating under the collective impact model to improve education. Check out what the Stanford Social Innovation Review had to say.

“These leaders realized that fixing one point on the educational continuum—such as better after-school programs—wouldn’t make much difference unless all parts of the continuum improved at the same time. No single organization, however innovative or powerful, could accomplish this alone. Instead, their ambitious mission became to coordinate improvements at every stage of a young person’s life, from “cradle to career.” Strive didn’t try to create a new educational program or attempt to convince donors to spend more money. Instead, through a carefully structured process, Strive focused the entire educational community on a single set of goals, measured in the same way.”

The workshop and article mentioned above both reiterate that you have to set aside yourpersonal agenda to create a common agenda with a joint approach.

How do you see this approach benefiting the population you serve? Where can cross-sector partnerships change the system of how people are working together to address a complex issue? As young professionals, how can we pave the way with innovative solutions that make our community safer, healthier, stronger?

There are few coalitions that exist in the metro, one being Viva East Bank, something I helped spearhead to address neighborhood revitalization. It’s only in initial stages, but it’s a model we hope to spread near and far throughout the Des Moines metro. We certainly have a long way to go, but as The Community Foundation says time and time again, we are better together.

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