Chapter 7: Backbone Infrastructure

The backbone infrastructure of a Collective Impact effort is focused on six core roles. These are:

  • Guide vision & strategy
  • Support aligned activities
  • Established shared measurements
  • Build public will
  • Advance policy
  • Mobilize funding

An in-depth study by FSG of successful backbones revealed that: their value is unmistakable; they share strengths in guiding vision and strategy and supporting aligned activities; they shift focus over time; they need ongoing assistance with data; they build public will, and Backbones help to advance policy.

There are several misperceptions about the backbone. Common ones include that the backbone:

  • Sets the agenda for the group
  • Drives the solutions
  • Receives all the funding
  • Backbone can be self-appointed rather than selected by the community
  • The role isn’t fundamentally different from “business as usual” in terms of staffing, time, and resources

Often, but not always, the Backbone often serves as the fiscal sponsor for the organization establishing an effective collaborative governance structure. Backbones are there to support the work of the Collective Impact initiative.

The resources in this section focus on the essential structures and agreements needed to facilitate good coordination across the multiple partners engaged in your Collective Impact effort.

Collective Impact Tools

Each chapter's primary tools are fundamental resources designed to help grow a more complete understanding of each stage of Collective Impact. Start your journey in this chapter by reviewing each of the primary tools. Once this is complete, you can move on to the secondary and dive deeper into resources to help gain a better grasp of specific elements that have been introduced.



Diving Deeper