What is a Funder’s Role in Collective Impact?

By Avani Patel 

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Last week, I was lucky to attend FSG’s and the Aspen’s Institute’s Collective Impact Forum conference in San Francisco. I learned achieving large-scale change through collective impact has five major components:

1) Common Agenda 2) Shared Measurement 3) Mutually Reinforcing Activities 4) Continuous Communication 5) Backbone Support

In one of the whole group sessions, someone shouted out a sixth major component: collective funding! The crowd seemed to unanimously agree. I wonder what this looks like.

I then learned a bit more about the functions of a backbone organization:

1)  Guide the vision and strategy 2)  Support aligned activities 3)  Establish shared measurable practices 4)  Build public will 5)  Advance policy 6)  Mobilize funding

I noted that funding was part of the core functions of a backbone organization, not necessarily to secure funding for the backbone, but for the collective initiative. After hearing directly from some backbone organizations, I tried to think about our role in all of this.  What are backbone organizations’ experiences trying to establish collective funding? Is it on the part of the backbone organization or the individual funders to establish funding/get involved? If a backbone organization doesn’t currently exist, what role does a funder have, if at all?

For more about FSG’s collective impact approach, visit: FSG’s Approach