LASVP Hones in on Collective Impact
LASVP’s newly revised investment approach alternates between a permanent social issue (education) and a rotating social issue based on Partner interest. Having worked with great educational nonprofit in the past, it will come as no surprise that the permanent issue chosen by Partners was education.
Taking education as the framework, the Investment Team met in late 2012 to narrow in on a more specific focus area for 2013. The team broke up into subgroups based on Partner interest. Different teams looked at STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, early childhood development, advocacy, and collective impact. Each of the subgroups researched their topics then presented their findings to each other.
One approach stood out. Collective impact was a component of many subgroup recommendations, and rose to the top as a strategic approach that appealed to the majority of the group.
Defining Collective Impact
So, what is collective impact? Collective impact happens when diverse organizations come together to address a complex social issue. John Kania and Mark Kramer’s article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review defines collective impact as “the commitment of a group of important actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem.”
The idea of collective impact was born out of the idea that complex social issues require a coordinated, structured, and collaborative approach. Collective impact is defined by a variety of organizations coming together across sectors (i.e. nonprofits, government agencies, businesses, foundations, etc.) and who are all committed to a common agenda.
Want to learn more?
- Social impact consultants FSG explain collective impact
- Partners: Access the Collective Impact Primer on the intranet.
Why Collective Impact Makes Sense for LASVP
Alex Soschin, Partner and spearhead for collective impact (pictured to the right), recalls that during the Investment Team’s discussions, collective impact seemed like a natural fit. It provides a framework that is being utilized by nonprofits in all the areas the Investment Team explored.
By finding the organizations and initiatives that are collaborating in this way, you find players who are taking a holistic approach to tackle the issue. Alex says that collective impact appeals to him because, “There is a focus on data, a focus on breaking out of silos. Collective impact looks at the big picture, not the individual battles.” When organizations decide to work collaboratively, they begin to share data, funding and experience, and they begin to eliminate unneeded competition.
“When you write a check to support a collective impact initiative that includes 20 or 30 other organizations, they all win from your investment,” says Alex. “Even a small strategic investment can leverage huge results.”
LASVP’s 2013 Collective Impact Investment Cycle
With this strategy in mind, the Investment team conducted research and reached out to other funders to learn who had initiatives underway that would improve long-term educational outcomes for children in Los Angeles County. Potential applicants were invited to apply after attending a workshop on May 14th. Applications are due June 10th.
PARTNERS: If you would like to get involved with the application review and selection process for this Education Investment Cycle, please contact SVP staff.