The human backbone - the spine - is one of the most important parts of a living being. The spine's five major purposes include: movement, support, protection, coordination, and control of the entire body.
Like the human spine, a backbone organization is arguably one of the most important parts of a living, breathing Collective Impact movement.The backbone organization serves five very similar purposes:
- movement through the mobilization of funding
- support by providing guidance of vision and strategy and building public will
- protection through advocacy and policy advancement
- coordination of partners and their aligned activities
- control of direction by determining and implementing shared measurement practices
Most importantly, the backbone, both of the human body and of a Collective Impact initiative, add resilience and maintain a balanced centre of gravity. The backbone organization ensures the strength and well-being of a Collective Impact initiative while maintaining focus and direction for partner organizations.
Because it is such an important part of any living entity, we must pay special attention to the health and well-being of any backbone. If the spine in a human body does not function properly, this can affect other parts of the body, creating ill-health as a whole. Similarly, if the backbone of a Collective Impact initiative does not function properly, this can have a negative impact on partner organizations, and the health and success of the initiative as a whole.
How can you create and maintain a healthy backbone?
Take a look at these great resources to nourish your backbone:
- The Backbone Toolkit from the Collective Impact Forum to help establish backbone infrastructure
- Five practices to build and maintain momentum in your work
- Wishbone or Backbone: Your Choice - A little encouragement from Tamarack's Liz Weaver
- 3 Tools & Techniques to add to your Collective Impact toolkit