A list of recommended articles that offer insight and perspective on the collective impact approach.

With all the buzz around Collective Impact, there are plenty of articles, blogs and resources being produced that offer insights and perspectives on how to effectively implement the complex approach.

With the input of our Collective Impact team, we’ve put together this list of recommended articles and resources for practitioners who are applying the principles of collective impact to drive positive outcomes for low-income people.

1. Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System by Donnella Meadows

This classic piece is one of the most accessible discussions of how to work within systems to create large-scale change. Collective impact initiatives should use Meadows' guidance to determine where and how to work in their communities to achieve their shared result.

2. Catalyzing Networks for Social Change by Monitor Institute

Network theory is different, but related to collective impact. This tool, written primarily for funders, provides a good overview of the methods to solving social issues in a collaborative way.

What recent articles or resources have you found useful in advancing your collective impact work? How have they been helpful? Add your thoughts 

3. The Culture of Collective Impact by Paul Schmitz

​​Schmitz eloquently writes about something too few have considered: what it takes to instill a culture among community leaders that produces the principles required for collective impact. This blog offers explicit recommendations for Collective Impact initiatives to build and strengthen this culture.

4. When Good is Not Good Enough by Bill Shore, Darell Hammond, and Amy Celep

Collectively defining a shared result is a core component of effective collective impact work. The exploration of setting “bold goals” in this article can be helpful for collective impact initiatives as they consider the scale and scope of their work.

5. Roundtable on Community Engagement in Collective Impact By Melody Barnes, Paul Born, Richard Harwood, Steve Savner, Stacey Stewart & Martin Zanghi

It’s easy to overlook the critical role that community members play in collective impact, which can often appear to focus on institutional ‘grass-tops.’ Yet we know that community members themselves have critical insight to provide collective impact efforts in the design and implementation of their strategies. In this article, the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions gathered scholars and practitioners to discuss effective engagement and inclusion of community voice in collective impact efforts.

6. Bringing an Equity Lens to Collective Impact by Junious Williams & Sarah Marxer

Unless we can explicitly address the structural causes of racial disparities, collective impact efforts are at risk of reproducing existing inequality. The explicit integration of an equity lens that builds social, economic and political power among those most affected by disparities is critical for achieving meaningful and lasting impact. This blog offers concrete ways to embed an equity lens into collective impact practices.

7. Is Your Nonprofit Really Ready to Use the Lean Startup? by Ben Mangan

As interest in applying private sector principles to social change work grows and more and more Collective Impact initiatives seek to apply lean start-up concepts, this article offers and honest and down to earth gut check about what it really takes to change the way we work and the importance of laying the groundwork for that change.

We hope these blogs and resources help advance your collective impact efforts and maximize the potential for creating enduring change on behalf of low-income communities.


A special thanks to Jeff Raderstrong, Program Associate for The Integration Initiative at Living Cities, for his contributions to this post.