We’re talking about creating social change here—through the big, audacious collection of voices that challenge conventional wisdom.
Violence against women and girls, men and boys, is the result of a 5,000 year society of domination, competition, and exploitation. No single organization can end violence against women and girls, men and boys. A movement to end violence requires a systemic approach to social impact that focuses on the relationships between organizations and the progress toward shared vision.
The Idaho Coalition must engage all the voices working toward social impact — advocates who use their voices for change, allies that work at the intersection of violence and oppression, cross-sector social justice movments grounded in human rights, entrepreneurs who create new combinations of ideas, the explorers who monitor the trends and opportunities, and the social conservators, who protect, repair, and retool the great breakthroughs we have already created – the Violence Against Women Act and funding of life-saving services and the decreased tolerance for violence against girls and women.
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The Idaho Coalition believes that ending violence against women and girls, men and boys can happen through our collective impact. A recent article in the Stanford Journal of Social Innovation highlights the characteristics of collective impact:
Common Agenda – Collective impact requires all participants to have 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.
Shared Measurement Systems – Developing a shared measurement system is essential to collective impact. Agreement on a common agenda is illusory without agreement on the ways success will be measured and reported.
Mutually Reinforcing Activities – Collective impact initiatives depend on a diverse group of stakeholders working together, not by requiring that all participants do the same thing, but by encouraging each participant to undertake the specific set of activities at which it excels in a way that supports and is coordinated with the actions of others.
The power of collective action comes not from the sheer number of participants or the uniformity of their efforts, but from the coordination of their differentiated activities through a mutually reinforcing plan of action.
Continuous Communication –Developing trust among nonprofits, corporations, and government agencies is a monumental challenge. Participants need several years of regular meetings to build up enough experience with each other to recognize and appreciate the common motivation behind their different efforts. They need time to see that their own interests will be treated fairly, and that decisions will be made on the basis of objective evidence and the best possible solution to the problem, not to favor the priorities of one organization over another.
Backbone Support Organizations – Creating and managing collective impact requires a separate organization and staff with a very specific set of skills to serve as the backbone for the entire initiative. Coordination takes time, and none of the participating organizations has any to spare. The expectation that collaboration can occur without a supporting infrastructure is one of the most frequent reasons why it fails. The backbone organization requires a dedicated staff separate from the participating organizations who can plan, manage, and support the initiative through ongoing facilitation, technology and communications support, data collection and reporting, and handling the myriad logistical and administrative details needed for the initiative to function smoothly.