Collective impact: Evidence and implications for practice

CFCA Paper No. 45 – November 2017


There is a long history of collaborative community-based projects in Australia and internationally; however, the term "collective impact" is relatively new. It was first applied to collaborative projects in 2011 in an article that described the five conditions necessary to achieve collective impact on complex social issues. 

While there has been a proliferation of collective impact projects in the years since 2011, the development of an evidence base to demonstrate effectiveness and support development of collective impact is still in its infancy. While collective impact has resonated with practitioners, it has also attracted criticism, particularly for its failure to address issues of structural inequity, engage with community members, and seek policy and systemic change. This paper seeks to explore what we know about collective impact and how it can be most effectively implemented to create change on complex social issues.