What is “Collective Impact”?

Collective Impact Forum defines the term as “a network of community members, organizations, and institutions who advance equity by learning together, aligning, and integrating their actions to achieve population and systems level change.” Coined by John Kania and Mark Kramer in a seminal 2011 paper, collective impact has become a nonprofit sector catch-all term for people and groups coming together to do what individuals can’t.

Circles USA began as a loose-knit collective with this imperative. Today, CUSA brings a 25-year history of building community to end poverty through intentional friendships, personal transformation, and systemic change led by the people closest to the challenge, per our mission. Our vision is that all individuals live in equitable, thriving communities where poverty no longer exists. 

Over the years, Collective Impact (in tandem with related, community-rooted practices like mutual aid) has come to be a model for radical collaboration with distinct best practices and tools. Circles USA’s anti-poverty model has naturally grown into this Collective Impact model and recognizes that the more we take a Collective Impact approach, the more successful our local chapters are at taking a community-based, holistic approach to mitigating poverty in their community.

How is a Circles chapter a local Collective Impact group?*

In order to bring people together in a structured way to achieve social change, Circles USA supports local chapters to:

*Based on text and graphic from the CI Readiness Assessment

Can Circles USA support our Collective Impact group?

If your Collective Impact group is working to alleviate poverty by fostering economic mobility and community building, the Circles model, materials, coaching, data system, and community of practice can fuel up your results. See our national Impact Report and Lives Transformed series at www.circlesusa.org to learn more about our results. Or reach out to kamatara@circlesusa.org to schedule a 1:1 to assess your community readiness.