Using data in decision-making is one the biggest challenges for collective impact initiatives. We’ve created several free resources to help you better manage the use of data for collective impact. See more from Data and Collective Impact 

Without continuously tracking and managing the results of ongoing work, it is highly unlikely that a collective impact initiative, or any large-scale change initiative, can achieve its goals. Collective impact initiatives need to use data to help manage progress towards achieving a shared result.

Many collective impact initiatives set out to do just that, but run into roadblocks along the way. There are many challenges associated with using data to change behavior, but most fundamentally come down to acquiring and developing the capacities and skills required to manage a data-driven process.

The Data and Collective Impact blog series dives deeper into five steps we’ve learned are critical to using data in collective impact. Over the next several months, we’ll release more resources and information help you navigate these steps to better use data for collective impact. If you’re interested in following along in this journey, sign up to get updates when the resources and tools are released.

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Steps to use data to change behavior in collective impact

  • Step 1: Agree on Data – Agree with partners on population metrics that track to a shared result, as well as program-specific metrics to understand how programs are contributing to changes.
  • Step 2: Find the Data – If the data exist, figure out how to access them. If they don’t, figure out how to develop them.
  • Step 3: Present the Data – Take the data and make them digestible, understandable and actionable.
  • Step 4: Discuss the Data – The data will tell a story—determine what’s behind that story and, more importantly, what to do about it.
  • Step 5: Change Behavior and Share Responsibility – Make sure everyone in the collective impact initiative is actually changing behavior based on the data.

Let us know your data challenges!

As continue on the Data and Collective Impact journey, we want to hear from you. Let us know what data challenges you’re facing by taking our survey to help us make our resources and tools more actionable.


Thanks to the following people who contributed to the Data and Collective Impact project, either through interviews or written feedback.

  • Robert Albright, Collective Impact Forum
  • Monique Baptiste-Good, Newark’s Strong, Healthy Communities Initiative
  • Nadine Chan, Public Health—Seattle and King County
  • Brian Chen, City of New Orleans
  • Molly Daniell, What Works Cities
  • Teresa Derrick-Mills, Urban Institute
  • Sam Edelstein, City of Syracuse
  • Eric Glaser, United Way Worldwide
  • Sarah Gillespie, Urban Institute
  • Ryan Gillette, Harvard Government Performance Lab
  • Fay Hanleybrown, FSG
  • Alaina Harkness, Brookings Institute
  • Nigel Jacobs, Boston Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics
  • Zach Markovits, What Works Cities·
  • Jennifer Park, What Works Cities
  • Hallie Preskill, FSG
  • Erica Raleigh, Data Driven Detroit
  • Carly Rospert, StriveTogether
  • Ted Smith, City of Louisville
  • Jennifer Splansky Juster, Collective Impact Forum
  • Peter Tatian, Urban Institute
  • Kimuyen Tran, City of New Orleans
  • Melissa Walsh,Chelsea Thrives
  • Madeleine Weatherhead, What Works Cities
  • Mary Winkler, Urban Institute
  • Kirsten Wysen, Public Health—Seattle and King County