International speaker and Collective Impact practitioner Liz Weaver this week kicked-off day one of Collective Impact 2014: Melbourne with practical insights into how the framework can tackle massive social problems, and the role that philanthropy can play in creating positive social change.

Using the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction (HRPR) in Canada as an example, Weaver shared that it is possible to achieve significant results using the Collective Impact approach.

Initial wins of the program cited by Weaver included HRPR’s success in reducing poverty by 12 per cent in its first three years, as well as in brokering an unprecedented agreement with a Hamilton newspaper to provide ongoing editorial commitment to highlighting poverty issues. The HRPR initiative, now in it’s ninth year, has received over 30 per cent non-government, philanthropic support – funding crucial to its success.

Weaver was quick to state that one of the most important elements that philanthropists engaging in Collective Impact should remember, is the need for ‘curiosity and generosity’ to drive change – and for participants to avoid the ‘blame game’ about what led to the complex problems being addressed.

Key Collective Impact lessons for philanthropy

Read more: What is Collective Impact?

In an exclusive interview after her address, Weaver shared her top three lessons for philanthropists and foundations to consider when engaging in Collective Impact initiatives:

1. Collective Impact is not about any one individual or funder. Philanthropists should think about what else they can bring to the table, including their own sphere of influence;

2. Collective Impact is not a strategy that is applicable to every situation, and while there is evidence that it works for some sectors, it is still in proof of concept phases for others; and

3. Philanthropists should think of Collective Impact as part of their overall investment strategy – it does not replace the need for funding things such as immediate relief or service delivery.

Lastly Liz shares; “There is so much potential for philanthropy to drive real, tangible change through a Collective Impact model, but we need philanthropists who understand their risk tolerance and can invest for the long-term. Long-term change takes long-term planning.”

What is Collective Impact?

Collective impact is not just a fancy name for collaboration, but a framework for tackling deeply entrenched and complex social problems. It’s a long-term, structured approach that works across government, business, philanthropy, community organisations and citizens. Conceptualised in 2011, the Collective Impact framework is being used worldwide to achieve large-scale progress for complex problems.

Collective Impact 2014

Presented by the Centre for Social Impact and Social Leadership Australia, Collective Impact 2014 has focused on this new approach that delivers, high-impact, long-term systemic change.

Read about the Sydney event here.

Generosity_Collaboration-for-ImpactCentre for Social Impact’s CEO Andrew Young acknowledges, “If we really want to make change we need to work collectively. I can’t think of a more leveraged approach for philanthropy than to fund this kind of work to solve complex social issues. Collective Impact is more than collaboration and needs some brave philanthropists to step up and invest in capacity and leadership.”

Stacey Thomas is Digital Manager of, Australia’s first online community for collective impact practitioners.