In my role here at MPOWR, I am fortunate enough to travel to conferences around the country and speak to a broad array of folks regarding their day-to-day work at a social agencies and other non-profit organizations. These efforts are more concentrated, and can thus be more efficient yet intense learning experience. For example, when at United Way events there is a wide range conversations related to Education, Income, and Health (the key building blocks for a better life, as they say). This week my colleague and I were at the Midwest version of that, at the United Way Great Rivers Conference in Indianapolis, IN.
"Taking on the big picture is hard work."
My colleague, Deanna got the ball rolling. I think you’ll very quickly identify with her “heard it on the street” point of view. Deanna said the user-engagement and customer service aspects of her role give her a distinctly different lens through which to see the conference and interact with the attendees—the wonderful folks from across United Way Great Rivers. And what she heard was this: “Taking on the big picture is hard work… you know what I mean?” You see, United Way is constantly probing community service agencies for innovative and creative proposals to address the community’s most pressing needs. True to the collaborative spirit of United Way, the strongest innovative concepts involve several agencies or systems working together to effectively bring this “big picture” to life.
Well, I would nod and agree, because this is what we see every day—the demand for alignment across agencies to get the best results for the individuals on whose behalf they work each day. And who can argue that point? Each agency brings its particular talents, resources, access, and expertise to a common table, to accomplish jointly what no organization could do alone. In her conversations across these few days, the overall common goals were heard over and again—to build strong relationships between partners and create a healthy dynamic to get business done.
Getting Started with Collective Impact
I was able to attend a session with the United Way of Hancock County and the University of Findlay where they discussed their work with the Center for Civic Engagement regarding Coalition Building and Collective Impact. Their cyclic plan to engage the community fits perfectly with the foundations of Collective Impact I learned about as a Tamarack Institute trained facilitator. If you are looking for the answer to the question “Where do we start my Collective Impact Initiative?”, you can learn more from their Quick Start Guide to Collective Impact.