Sustainability & Resilience


Resource Library

This resource is also available in French. Click here to access the French version.


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10: A Guide for Building a Sustainable and Resilient Collaboration

This guide unpacks the concepts of sustainability and resilience and shares ideas, stories and resources that will benefit collaborations as they consider them.

Sustainability involves many factors, including leadership, funding, community engagement, and the ability to influence policy and systems that lead to a program or a collective impact. These factors fall under four main categories: people (who to involve), resources (the investment required), process (the why of the collaboration), and impact (the effect/influence and telling the story).

Resilience is about building a collaboration’s capacity to shift, adapt, and change, and is also focused on the overall health and well-being of the collaboration and the community.

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Resources to support your sustainability & resilience work

The resources have been broken up into categories to support your learning.

Tools to support your work


Sustainability Self-Assessment

This tool helps collaborations to consider ten factors and assess the degree to which partners are engaged in building sustainability into their collective effort. It can provide an opportunity to have frank and important conversations about what a collaboration hopes to sustain, as well as help them to focus on strategies that will build sustainability.


The Collaboration Spectrum

As groups move along the continuum they must pay attention to activities that build trust amongst the partners. Collective Impact efforts exist within the stages of the collaboration continuum that include coordination of efforts, collaboration amongst partners and the integration of services and programs. 


Establishing Values and Principles for Working Together

Most collective impact and collaborative efforts benefit from establishing a core set of values and principles for working together. The time spent upfront agreeing to a core set of values and principles can save time over the course of the collaborative when sticky situations arise.


Tools for Systems Thinkers: Systems Mapping

Systems thinking requires a shift in our perception of the world around us. In order to build a new multidimensional thinking framework, we need to discover the dynamics and interconnectedness of the systems at play. This is where systems mapping tools come in — they provide an exploration of the system, communicate understanding, and allow for the identification of knowledge gaps, intervention points, and insights.


Collective Impact Initiative Budgeting

Collective Impact initiatives benefit from generating their budget by engaging multiple funding streams. 


Tools for Backbones

This tool from the Collective Impact Forum is intended to serve as tool for establishing the infrastructure of a Collective Impact Backbone. 


Top 100 Partners Exercise

The Top 100 Partners Exercise is a useful tool for collectively identifying the community connections each partner brings to the collaboration.


12 Tools to Foster Alignment & Collaboration

CoCreative Consulting has developed this background resource that identifies 12 simple tools to build engagement, collaboration, and alignment.


15% Solutions

This Liberating Structures tool helps partners reveal small and big actions that they can contribute to the shared success of the collaboration. Each partner is asked to identify something they are currently doing, which, when adjusted slightly, creates momentum and progress.


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Papers to support your work


Turf, Trust, Co-Creation & Collective Impact

Authentic community change moves at the speed of trust. And yet, we spend so little time and focus on intentionally building trust amongst partners. This paper explores the intricacies of trust, how to build it and what to do when trust is broken.


Creating the Culture for Engagement

In this paper, Lisa Attygalle explores the role of fear in the engagement process and provides practical strategies for transforming and applying fear in community engagement.


The Innovation Ambition Continuum

The Three Ambitions Continuum is a mash-up of some of the most popular change-oriented frameworks floating around the field that aims to provide one way that social innovators can make sense of it all.


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Webinars to support your work


Building Sustainable Collaborations from the Start

This webinar recording features a conversation about how collaborations can benefit from focusing on developing a sustainability approach during the early phases of their work. The speakers provide helpful hints to collaboration conveners, members, and funders about how to make collaboration more impactful.


Building Sustainable Collaborations - Stories Hamilton, Ont. and Newfoundland

This webinar recording features a conversation with Tom Cooper, Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, and Joshua Smee, Food First NL, about how their collaboration efforts have sustained utilizing the 10 factors shared in our guide on Building a Sustainable and Resilient Collaboration.


Building Sustainable Collaborations: Stories of Building and Restructuring

This webinar recording features a conversation with Steacy Pinney of Calgary Reads and Ashley Anderson of Communities Building Youth Futures, Portage la Prairie as they share stories about how their collaboration efforts have sustained utilizing these factors. They also discuss the lessons learned as they implemented a sustainability and resilience-first approach.


How to Support a Sustainable and Resilient Collaboration

For this session, we hear from Liz Weaver and Mike Des Jardins (Tamarack Institute) and Amy Ahrens Terpstra (United Way of Salt Lake) as they share what can be helpful when building a sustainable collaboration.


Podcasts to support your work


Supporting a Sustainable and Resilient Collaboration – Part 1

This podcast episode is the first of a two-part discussion that explores what can help a collaborative be more sustainable and resilient. In this first part, we discuss tips, stories, and resources that support sustainability practices for collective impact efforts.


Supporting a Sustainable and Resilient Collaboration – Part 2

In this second part, we discuss the practices and resources that can help support resiliency for collective impact efforts.


How Do You Sustain Your Initiative Over the Long Term?

If big social change goals take a long time to become reality, how do we get there? In this episode, we’re taking a deep dive discussion to talk about seven factors that can support an initiative’s long-term sustainability.



Other resources to support your work


The Power Project

The Power Project calls for a new way of thinking about power, and action to build solidarity in social change.


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