Collective Impact. How working together can achieve powerful results for inclusion in sport.

Have you ever tried to get a sport program up and running? Have you ever been tasked with attempting to increase participation and engagement? If you answered yes then you are more than likely aware of how important collaboration is to achieving success. When it comes to inclusion outcomes in sport and working with targeted population groups the need for effective collaboration is magnified.

In this post you will learn:

  • Why collaboration is important to achieving inclusion outcomes
  • The five conditions of collective impact
  • How to create an action plan using the collective impact approach

Plus at the end of the post you can download a handy planning tool to help you put things into practice.

Inclusion in sport is as all about shifting the way people think and act so that barriers to participation are removed. It’s about much more than just the activity itself and requires all the people and groups involved to be on the same page and moving in the same direction. Building and maintaining effective partnerships and networks plays an important role in achieving success. The question is how can we achieve this? This is where Collective Impact could provide sport administrators with a way forward.

What is Collective Impact?

In simple terms Collective Impact is about people and organisations coming together in a structured way to achieve social change.

John Kania and Mark Kramer first explored the idea in an article titled Collective Impact, which was published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review in 2011. Kania and Kramer described five conditions that contribute to collective success of initiatives that address social and community issues. In their words these five conditions “produce true alignment and powerful results”.

The conditions of Collective Impact can offer sport deliverers at all levels a method for building momentum towards successful inclusive outcomes.
So, what are the 5 conditions of collective impact?
  • Common Agenda

    This involves people coming together to clearly define the issue or problem and create a way to solve it.

  • Shared Measurement System

    This means agreeing to track progress in the same way to enable continuous improvement.

  • Mutually Reinforcing Activities

    This involves maximizing the end result through coordinated collective efforts.

  • Continuous Communication

    This means building trusting relationships and maintaining regular dialogue between all parties.

  • Backbone Organisation

    This requires having a person or team driving and directing the work of the group.

Prefer pictures? Heres a great video explaining each of the conditions via The Greater Cincinati Foundation.

For sports deliverers to achieve successful inclusion in sports activities it is vital they work with the community to plan, deliver and validate programs.

The collective impact framework highlights the importance of cross sector collaboration. For sports deliverers to achieve successful inclusion in sports activities it is vital they work with the people and organisations in the community to plan, deliver and validate programs. This includes the people and organisations that represent your target participants.

Understanding and applying the five conditions of Collective Impact when designing sport programs ensures this can occur and increases the chances of success.

Next steps:
  1. Download the Collective Impact planning tool below.
  2. Share this post with your team, working group or steering committee so they understand the collective impact approach.
  3. Use the planning tool for your next project, program or initiative.
  4. Share your experiences in the comments below. Tell us what worked and what didn’t.

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Thinking about your sport and recreation programs and initiatives, who are you working with? How can you put the five conditions in to practice? Share in the comments!

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