Collective Ideas to Collective Impact

A Guide to Data Collaboration in Communities

A growing number of communities are convening representatives from diverse sectors, including government, philanthropy, schools and nonprofits, to tackle entrenched social problems. Often called “collective impact” initiatives, these efforts clearly define community-wide goals and carefully coordinate program strategies in an attempt to produce a positive, long-lasting impact that no single organization could achieve on its own.

The shared collection and use of data is central to collective impact efforts but can be one of the most difficult steps to accomplish effectively. Collective Ideas to Collective Impact, a new guide produced by nFocus Solutions™, taps the experience of successful community initiatives in Boston and Omaha to provide local officials, schools district leaders, nonprofit directors and funders with concrete advice about successfully planning, developing, launching and using a collaborative data system.

“Collective Ideas to Collective Impact” co-author Meridith Polin discusses how local groups can use the new nFocus Solutions guide to setting up local collaborations.

Meridith Polin
Co-author, “Collective Ideas to Collective Impact”
McClanahan Associates
Communities for Change 2012

The Guide includes tips on:

Vision and Planning: setting high-level goals, involving key stakeholders, and deciding what to measure

Laying the Groundwork: securing funding, specifying roles and responsibilities, determining requirements for the data system, and selecting a technology provider

Training: communicating its importance, tailoring training to meet varying needs, and providing ongoing training and support

Implementing a Shared Data Management System: piloting the system, keeping partners engaged, ensuring accurate and complete data, and communicating effectively

Making the Most of Your Data: effectively using reports and meetings to help partners examine and act on recorded data

Sustaining the Work: generating stable, long-term support, stoking enthusiasm for the effort, and evolving for the future


Additional Resources and Toolkit

Throughout the guide, you’ll find numerous references to user-friendly tools and checklists we’ve included to help your organization plan and launch its own collaborative data system. For your convenience, we’ve placed links to each tool on this page allowing you to download and print each as needed.

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