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Data in Collective Impact: Focusing on What Matters

Understanding data and using it effectively can help achieve short- and long-term progress

One of the five conditions of collective impact, “shared measurement systems,” calls upon initiatives to identify and share key metrics of success that align partners toward a common vision. While the premise that data should guide shared decision-making is not unique to collective impact, its articulation 10 years ago as a necessary condition for collective impact catalyzed a focus on data use across the social sector.

In the original article on collective impact in Stanford Social Innovation Review, the authors describe the benefits of using consistent metrics to identify patterns, make comparisons, promote learning, and hold actors accountable for success. While this vision for data collection remains relevant today, the field has developed a more nuanced understanding of how to make it a reality.

The data we collect—and the data we don’t—reflect our values and what we think is important. We track data on our finances. We monitor our blood pressure. And if you’re like me, you pay attention to your fantasy football team for five weeks and then forget about it. When we need to, we change our behavior—our spending, our exercise, our starting running backs. We make these adjustments because we care about the outcomes and have information that tells us we should do something differently.

Please select this link to read the complete article from SSIR.

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