Community planning is nothing new, but the way in which communities are approaching planning is certainly evolving. Collective Impact is all the buzz – and with good reason (at least, that’s what we believe here at Community Solutions). Where community plans of yesteryear were often rigid and linear, community plans using Collective Impact principles are flexible and intersecting. And, where planning was once time-bound (and often, quickly out-of-date), the Collective Impact approach enables communities to take advantage of emerging opportunities and remain current and vital. The true power behind the Collective Impact approach is the focus on marshaling and aligning ALL available resources, including those contributed by funders, intermediary organizations, policy makers, and community leaders. So often in the past, community plans have focused on what each individual partner organization is going to do for the cause, within the confines of its own silo, rather than taking a systems-level focus.
For the uninitiated, the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) is a great resource for all-things-Collective-Impact. SSIR has researched collective impact initiatives, and through that work has identified five conditions that seem to be associated with success:
1. A common agenda
2. Shared measurement systems
3. Mutually reinforcing activities
4. Continuous communication
5. Backbone support organizations
A great example of Collective Impact in Indianapolis is the Community-Wide Plan to End Domestic Violence 3.0 (CWP 3.0). The purpose of CWP 3.0 is to form a community-wide collaborative response to end domestic violence in Central Indiana. CWP 3.0 builds on more than 10 years of activity, planning, and partnership development among domestic violence service providers, the City of Indianapolis, public safety officials, area hospitals, the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, Connect2Help/IN 211, the faith community, and dozens of social service agencies. The success of the plan relies on these community partners and others to come together and leverage each other’s resources to achieve the desired result: to end domestic violence in Central Indiana.
Let’s take a look at CWP 3.0, and learn how local stakeholders have addressed SSIR’s Five Conditions of Collective Success.
CONDITION #1: A COMMON AGENDA
According to SSIR, a common agenda includes, “a shared vision for change, one that includes a common understanding of the problem and a joint approach to solving it through agreed upon actions.” The development of CWP 3.0 was led by a Steering Committee comprised of 18 key leaders representing domestic violence service provider agencies, law enforcement, philanthropy, the faith community, and education. The Steering Committee provided oversight and guidance on the planning process, provided analysis and feedback on the input and information gathered throughout the process, and acted as a liaison between the planning process and the broader community.
Community input for developing a common agenda was gathered in several ways, including:
• Community roundtable discussions (2 each) which engaged 75 participants from across the community and sectors
• Sector-specific focus groups (6 in total).
• Feedback through an interactive social media campaign.
• Review of results and feedback from an Environmental Scan to assess community interest, capacity, and ability to address domestic violence in Central Indiana and a fall 2012 evaluation report of Peace in Our Homes, Central Indiana’s second community-wide plan to end domestic violence, both prepared in fall 2012.
In total, 112 individuals representing 59 organizations provided guidance and input into the development of CWP 3.0. Together, these stakeholders identified the desired result of the Community-Wide Plan to End Domestic Violence is just that: to end domestic violence in Central Indiana. They also identified targeted results for target populations that must be impacted in order to comprehensively, collectively address domestic violence, and strategies to end violence and prevent future violence, which are outlined in the table below, present the common agenda.
CONDITION #2: SHARED MEASUREMENT SYSTEMS
Once leaders have agreed on the nature of a community-level problem and a joint plan-of-action for working in concert in order to drive population-level change, they must also come to consensus on how success will be measured. The CWP 3.0 outlines strategies for each of the targeted populations, and the evaluation approach includes population-specific indicators that will be collected on an ongoing basis and reported to the community in real time, so the community can monitor the progress toward the desired result and determine whether results are achieved. Like the community-level measures, these indicators can be accessed by the community via an online portal.
One common complaint about traditional planning efforts is that they call on partners to make individual contributions in service of the bigger initiative, but it is impossible to see how these small-scale, individual contributions of partners add up to anything. CWP 3.0 incorporates a means of tracking progress and sharing accountability among community stakeholders that measures progress toward the targeted results (indicators), as well as program-level contributions of partners (performance measures).
CONDITION #3: MUTUALLY REINFORCING ACTIVITIES
In order to achieve the results at the target population level, and ultimately, at the community level, all residents must be engaged and align their actions around effective approaches for preventing and breaking the cycle of domestic violence. The strategies in the CWP 3.0 are designed to be broad, powerful, and urgent. The Plan does not include a comprehensive listing of every action that could or should be done to prevent domestic violence. Rather, it focuses on priority, community-level strategies, developed by community stakeholders and refined by experts in the field. It serves as a call-to-action for all residents of Central Indiana to engage in the process of ending domestic violence.
Prevention Strategies for Community Members
Through education, advocacy, and active community engagement, ensure that all members of the Central Indiana community are informed about the issue of domestic violence, understand their individual opportunities to address the issue, and are engaged in efforts to end domestic violence, either formally or informally.
Prevention Strategies for Youth
Through media campaigns and partnerships with schools, daycares, healthcare providers, community-based organizations and youth serving agencies, and employers, acculturate children to be respectful of self and others, educate youth about how to recognize and respond to unhealthy relationships, and advocate for policies designed to prevent and address unhealthy youth relationships.
Intervention Strategies for Domestic Violence Victims and Survivors
Domestic violence victims and survivors must have access to culturally sensitive, comprehensive, integrated, evidence-based services and supports in order to safely and sustainably exit unsafe and unhealthy relationships. All sectors have a role to play in this effort – not just community service providers.
Intervention Strategies for People who Batter and Abuse
People who batter must be held accountable for their actions and must have opportunities for behavior modification. The criminal justice sector must be equipped to effectively identify and intervene to prevent domestic violence. Service providers, healthcare providers, community-based organizations, and employers can contribute to a batterer’s recovery, as well, through programs, services, and policies.
In order to have community-wide impact, the implementation of the plan must engage partners from across the breadth of the community. It is only by leveraging of resources, aligning of actions, focus on powerful strategies, that domestic violence can end in this community. Mutually reinforcing activities within the overall strategy framework are identified and led by members of three Impact Groups, one group that shepherds the Prevention Strategies and two Impact Groups who guide the Intervention Strategies:
• Prevention Strategies: Community Members and Youth
• Intervention Strategies: Victims and Survivors
• Intervention Strategies: People who Batter and Abuse
Impact Groups are charged with holding the result for their target population(s). They identify key agencies/partners to implement the specific strategies, invite those partners to take on the leadership role, monitor progress on implementing the strategies, remove barriers to implementation, monitor impact of the strategies and ensure that implementation partners have the tools they need to go their work. Impact Groups meet regularly to discuss progress on the population level indicators and program level work that is contributing to the work, take action to accelerate the work, and identify opportunities across the Impact Groups for collaboration.
CONDITION #4: CONTINUOUS COMMUNICATION
Working together can be challenging – it requires compromise, and can be time consuming. We’ve all had the experience of deciding to “just do it myself” because it seems easier than pulling together a committee. Collective impact is an approach that requires frequent, intentional communication to build trusting relationships and make room for discovering opportunities to align actions, leverage resources, and cultivate champions.
The three Impact Groups convene regularly to work together on the implementation of powerful strategies. CWP 3.0 Progress Reports that summarize the work that is taking place are published twice per year. Community members and partners can visit the CWP 3.0 Results Scorecard to get updated information on the Indicators and Performance Measures of the Plan. Partners utilize any and every opportunity to promote the effort, inform the community, and engage new partners.
CONDITION #5: BACKBONE SUPPORT ORGANIZATIONS
The collective impact approach requires stakeholders to do their work differently – collectively – which takes time and energy. Successful collective impact initiatives rely heavily on the planning, management, and support of a backbone organization, which provides staff support and leadership separate from the work of community partners. Examples of the kinds of services that a backbone organization can provide, according to SSIR, include:
• Technology and Communications Support
• Data Collection and Reporting
• Logistical and Administrative Tasks
The Domestic Violence Network (DVN) is the backbone organization for CWP 3.0. DVN is an Indianapolis-based domestic violence intermediary organization serving Central Indiana, with the mission of engaging the community to end domestic violence through advocacy, education, and collaboration. They are uniquely and appropriately positioned to support a domestic violence collective impact initiative. Their role is to undergird and support partners’ work, and those partners come from across sectors, including:
If you are interested in learning more about Collective Impact and how it relates to your program, organization, or community, visit our contact page or connect with us through Facebook (facebook.com/CommunitySolutionsIndy) or twitter (@GetToResults).