Collective Impact

Our CEO — Yvonne Powley was one of more than 250 delegates from around the world, who attended the 2015 Collective Impact Summit in Vancouver.  “I came to the CIS 2015 with three primary questions”.

  1. Does Collective Impact offer a viable model for building and sustaining large scale social change? 
  2. Does Collective Impact require a top-down approach or are there opportunities for it to include a strengths-based, bottom-up approach? 
  3. What is the role of government in Collective Impact initiatives? 

As an Executive Officer with , I am one of a core group representing some twenty agencies who are working together to create The Auckland North Family Violence Prevention CI Project.  Our shared goal is to develop a new way of working together to prevent family violence in Auckland North using a Collective Impact approach.


I believe that in the years ahead Collective Impact is going to continue to gain worldwide popularity as a framework that can make a significant difference to communities. I appreciate the many useful online resources now available and recognize both Tamarack and FSG in America as leading experts in this developing field.  My scepticism of it driving too much of a top down approach has been allayed as it appears you can work with a strength‐based, bottom up approach.

I have come to deeply appreciate that the difference between the possible and impossible depends on a person’s determination.  Specifically, this means that:
Progress is not always clear but always iterative. 
We need to get rid of the notion of a ‘white coat evaluator’! 
Power of building space of community. 
Collective impact is moving change in scale – Little efforts, big results!
We all benefit from stories of the success of things. 

My questions regarding the role of government have been answered, in part, by noting the success that Tamarack appears to have gained Government and State support across Canada for its work with Vibrant Communities. I fear it may be challenging to get the same support here in NZ, but time will tell. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my time and have returned inspired by the many success stories I heard. (Image credit:Tamarack Institute)

Yvonne Powley
Executive Officer, ANCAD
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Other ways in which ANCAD works through the Collective Impact approach

The STaHR Project (Safe Thriving and Healthy Relationships)

In August 2015 members of the North Shore Family Violence Prevention Network and the North Shore Child Focus Group formed a Collective to explore how a Collective Impact approach could begin to develop better solutions to the complex issues of family violence and child abuse.

Collective Impact starts with bringing people together to collaborate on a shared vision and the development of a common agenda. This collective impact approach was designed to build on the ongoing work of the NSFV Network and the Child Focus Group.

Collective impact recognises that no single agency or service provider has the resources or authority to catalyse the positive change that will address the systemic and complex issue of family violence and child abuse. To make progress and sustain momentum all successful collective impact approaches require the services of a ‘backbone organisation.’ ANCAD’s role as the backbone organisation has been supported by three highly  qualified capability mentors.

Collective Impact is a dynamic process with outcomes and activities likely to change as the collective works together and gathers momentum. ANCAD is required to provide the structure; monitor and adapt processes to enable the collaboration to work together more effectively on their shared agenda. The focus needs to be on leading from behind while remaining both tactical and strategic. The change process seeks to shift sectors and agencies away from isolated interventions and impact to a more coordinated and collective approach.

However there are many contextual challenges to this way of working as most funding models support ‘intervention and isolated impact’ in the family violence sector rather than encouraging collaboration among service providers to find new solutions.

Innovation also requires an appetite for risk; time and the capacity for an organisation to work collaboratively. Many providers are constrained by the need to deliver on current service contracts which leaves them with very little time for development work. In spite of these challenges, a strong commitment to the STaHR project and the vision of ‘safe thriving and healthy relationships’ has emerged along with the goal of developing a ‘virtual’ and a physical Hub to support the ongoing collaborative work.

The small agency shared measurement system project SASS, has grown out of the larger collective work in recognition of the need to improve data capabilities in the smaller agencies. Shared data systems across multiple providers would provide a more accurate, insightful and useful analysis of gaps and issues. This work is fundamental to the creation of the Collective’s virtual Hub — now established as Takapuna Community Hub-Kotahitanga.

(Image credit: Tamarack Institute.)