A Role for Local Government in Collective Impact Initiatives

In the 1990s, the "Reinventing Government" movement emphasized the role of non-government organizations in providing services traditionally provided by government.

Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic drawing attention to the ways in which the nonprofit sector can facilitate (or hinder) a successful public health campaign, researchers have coined the term "collective impact," which refers to a community of nonprofit organizations working collectively toward positive societal change, reports the American Society of Public Administration.

The researchers have outlined specific conditions for such a collective impact, including a "community of organizations with a unified vision for positive change" and a "mutually Reinforcing Activities" where nonprofits coordinate with each other so as to limit duplication and maximize their collective coverage.

A key reason such initiatives can struggle is the lack of a capable backbone support organization, the ASPA researchers note.

"Hence it is common in practice for such initiatives to start with great fanfare, only to atrophy over time, eventually becoming nothing more than a monthly meeting viewed as mostly a nuisance for all involved," the researchers write.

Local governments, on the other hand, "could provide incentives for organizations participating in collective impact initiatives," the researchers note, including funds through a revolving loan or grant fund, back-office support, grant writing, and performance

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