Network News November 2015

2015 Collective Impact Summit, Vancouver
by Yvonne Powley, Executive Officer, Auckland North Community and Development

I was one of more than 250 delegates from around the world who attended the 2015 Collective Impact Summit over five days, in Vancouver in September/October. This was an opportunity to learn about the effectiveness of implementing a Collective Impact approach. I was inspired by many internationally renowned thought leaders, hearing innovative ideas and projects from around the world and I am now a firm believer that Collective Impact offers New Zealand communities a path forward for working with large scale social change.

Collective Impact

I came to the CIS 2015 with three primary questions:

  • Does Collective Impact offer a viable model for building and sustaining large scale social change?
  • Does Collective Impact require a top-down approach or are there opportunities for it to include a strengths-based, bottom-up approach?
  • What is the role of government in Collective Impact initiatives?

As an Executive Officer with Auckland North Community and Development, I am one of a core group representing some twenty agencies who are working together to create The Auckland North Family Violence Prevention CI Project.  Our shared goal is to develop a new way of working together to prevent family violence in Auckland North using a Collective Impact approach.

Definition of Collective Impact:

Collective Impact (CI) is a framework to tackle deeply entrenched and complex social problems. It is an innovative and structural approach to making collaboration work across government, business, philanthropy, non-profit organisations and citizens to achieve significant and lasting social change.

A fundamental principle of the collective impact approach is that complex problems require a different way of working, as well as the intense engagement of a wide variety of influential partners who leverage their collective resources to drive.

A fundamental principle of the collective impact approach is that complex problems require a different way of working, as well as the intense engagement of a wide variety of influential partners who leverage their collective resources to drive

The Collective Impact Approach:

A collective impact approach requires that communities commit to engaging with all five conditions in the framework:

  • Building a common agenda,
  • Engaging in shared measurement,
  • Supporting the collaborative work through mutually reinforcing activities,
  • Keeping partners and the community engaged through continuous communications, and
  • Ensuring that the collective effort is supported by a backbone infrastructure. [1]

The Tamarack Institute has been actively engaged in the evolving nature of collective impact efforts across Canada, the United States and internationally for the last 5 years. The success stories told at the conference and evidence produced showed that this collaborative way of working is achieving some excellent outcomes internationally.

In the years ahead Collective Impact is going to continue to gain worldwide popularity as a framework that can make a significant difference to communities. I appreciate the many useful online resources now available and recognize both Tamarack and FSG in America as leading experts in this developing field.  My scepticism of it driving too much of a top down approach has been allayed as it appears you can work with a strength‐based, bottom up approach.

The readiness and enthusiasm to work collectively seems to be high in Canada. It will be interesting to see how it can work in NZ as we are so used to a competitive, organisational model, although I can see it working far more easily for Maori. The rest of us will have to believe that the whole can deliver better than the sum of the parts.

Each context is different and depends on what individuals bring to it. I also went with the question about the role of government and that Collective Impact may not easily work in NZ without whole of government support. Tamarack appears to have gained Government and State support across Canada. It may be challenging to get the same support here in NZ. Time will tell.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Summit and a huge thanks again to the individuals that supported and enabled my visit, and the Department of Internal Affairs, who approved funding for me to attend.
My report is now available on the Tamarack website:

Yvonne Powley
(09) 486 4820

Local government and the community and voluntary sector
by Dr Mike Reid, Principal Policy Advisor, Local Government New Zealand

Local government exists to allow citizens to make collective decisions about their communities, towns and cities.  This is a larger role than simply the provision of local public services. It provides a democratic arena in which local people are able to determine priorities, set the future direction of their district or city and negotiate a shared sense of citizenship.

Local government’s unique strength is its proximity to people and communities.  It is a lot easier, in most areas, to turn up to a council meeting than it is to visit Cabinet (which are all publicly excluded).  And it should be a lot easier to talk to your local councillor and contribute to a local policy consultation than to discuss matters with your local MP or make submissions to a select committee (although this is easier in NZ than in many countries).

It is this localness and responsiveness that makes local government important to the community and voluntary sector – as much of the work the sector is engaged in is local.

Working closely with your local authority or community/local board is important for a number of reasons, from funding and practical support to information and advocacy. Yet over recent years there has been a growing uncertainty over the nature of this relationship. Three particular factors have had an influence:

  • the change to the purpose of local government made in 2012,
  • budgetary pressure faced by councils
  • changes in the way councils and governments work –what is sometimes called New Public Management (NPM).​

Some councils took the removal of the well being clause as a license to reduce investment in economic and social programmes, yet they weren’t forced to.  The change was not that significant with Crown Law itself describing the implications of the amendment as “relatively small”.  More important has been the pressure to ensure investment in infrastructure is adequate.  The amount councils now spend on depreciation makes up almost a quarter of all operational expenditure, creating a squeeze on what might be called discretionary or “soft” spending. Finally the NPM reforms introduced during the 1990s’ gradually changed the way councils work with other organisations resulting in greater use of contracts and top-down performance measures – not dissimilar to changes at the central government level.

Despite these trends the community and voluntary sector is essential if districts and cities are to thrive in the future and meaningful partnerships with local councils will be required. Building community resilience needs to start at the flax roots and we need to look at the quality of our community governance frameworks.  If we are to address the complex challenges facing our towns, cities and regions then we need to find ways of working that harness the potential of multiple agencies, sectors and communities themselves.

New Name for COSS Christchurch

It’s official – COSS Christchurch is now called the Social Equity and Wellbeing Network (SEWN).

Executive Director Sharon Torstonson (holding sign) pictured with SEWN Board members.

To blog, or not to blog…

Here are the links to the latest ComVoices blogs on Community Scoop. Interesting reading…
Secrets Darwin Could Share by Tara D’Sousa, National Manager, Social Service Providers Aotearoa Inc
What messages are NZ charities sending to the public? by Dianne Armstrong, Business Development Manager, Arthritis New Zealand
Nothing like a good dose of outrage – or is there? by Gabrielle O’Brien, CEO, Birthright NZ
OECD report a timely reminder about ICTs in Schools by Lawrence Zwimpfer, Contracts Director, 2020 Trust
A new dawn? by Wren Green, Director, Council for International Development

CNA Biennial Hui Logo RGB for WEB_ ACTUAL

Presentations, notes and photographs from our Members’ Huiheld in Wellington on 15/16 October are now available on our website

And don’t forget, we’re here to help.  If you have any problems or issues, or just need some information, please don’t hesitate to contact Ros at the CNA office on Wellington (04) 472 3364 or  Both Ros and Fionn are here to provide support to our membership and always welcome your contact.

Photo: bruceandrobyn