The three-headed hydra of apathy, envy and fear share a vision with you.

Today’s unprecedented challenges require a vision of hope, not apathy, envy and fear. The collective impact framework can guide us.


This twenty-part series introduces you to twenty key terms used in a local mobilizing process that you and your community will require to survive and thrive during colliding crises. The articles will reference the three-headed hydras of apathy, envy and fear, those people in positions of power who are fighting to keep a broken status quo.

Concept 9: collective impact model

A shared vision is required for any successful social movement — and the 100% Community initiative, designed to ensure ten vital services for surviving and thriving, is as much a movement as it is a mobilizing strategy. One vital component of our project is a guiding philosophy and process called collective impact.

Solving challenges together

Before we define collective impact, let’s talk about the type of challenges it can solve. As our national leaders argue over how to address pandemics and economic disruptions, we can take a moment to reflect on some strategies used in the last few decades to address some public health challenges. Our nation and state leaders learned to mobilize around two costly health and safety challenges: we reduced motor vehicle injury by nudging (through laws and car design) the wearing of seat belts and we reduced respiratory problems and cancer by ending smoking on planes and in shared work and public buildings. Brilliant!

We were even pretty “Johnny on the spot” when we thought Ebola might enter the US. We as a nation knew exactly how to focus on our collective attention and millions of dollars on that particular health threat and solve it. Fast.

What is baffling to many health advocates is that after four decades of health crises, from AIDS to COVID-19, our national leaders have not worked to ensure that all residents have access to medical care and other services for surviving. We have not worked collectively, as a nation or as states, to ensure vital services to protect us during pandemics and economic disruptions. Until now.

Committing to collaboration

Local leaders engaged with the 100% Community initiative are committed to everyone surviving and thriving. They are doing the data-driven and collaborative work of setting up ten action teams (each team focused on a surviving and thriving service) in each county to do both small-scale and large-scale, long-term projects.

The 100% Community initiative is building the capacity to increase the services of health clinics, food banks, housing security agencies and other vital organizations. Initiative action teams are working to support the development of full service community schools with health care for students and families. This community mobilizing work benefits greatly from a framework shown to move people toward a shared goal and vision. That would be collective impact.

Defining Collective Impact: a strategy for change

This process of sharing a vision has been packaged as a process called collective impact. It has decades of research behind it, and many meaningful projects have been completed by following its guidelines.

In the article “Collective Impact,” written by John Kania and Mark Kramer and published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, developers of the collective impact model, discuss how large-scale social change requires broad cross-sector coordination and the importance of social sector focused collaboration instead of the isolated intervention of individual organizations. They describe how successful collective impact initiatives typically have five conditions that together produce true alignment and lead to powerful results:

  • a common agenda
  • shared measurement systems
  • mutually reinforcing activities
  • continuous communication
  • backbone support organization

The 100% Community initiative uses the collective impact model because it focuses on the power of strong leadership working in collaboration to get results through a shared vision and goals. The philosophy of collective impact can be applied to many large scale projects, such as creating a system of mental health services across the county to reduce childhood trauma, so we empower our 100% Community action teams with the collective impact model, along with the other tools in our toolbox.

As you mobilize around an innovation, you will find the collective impact model essential. Like so many of the frameworks that guide our 100% Community initiative, the best ones are the simplest. And, what could be simpler (and more powerful) than sharing a vision?

10 Visions within a One Shared Vision

The 100% Community initiative, as you well know by now, envisions a county where all residents have access to ten vital services. Within that process are a thousand different moving parts. Some of those components of the initiative are the ten action teams, each focused on one of the ten vital services for surviving and thriving. The action teams function, in some ways, as ten county coalitions within one mothership coalition.

Within each of the ten action teams, members are developing innovations to increase services. These innovations have one purpose: ensure access to quality services for all county residents. The goal, supported by the collective impact process, is to ensure that all activities within the initiative are in alignment with one another.

The choice is yours as the era of pandemics and economic disruptions unfolds. Create a shared vision to solve our most costly challenges or work in isolation and hope for the best. I believe the former will get you to the results you seek.

See 100% Community, Chapter 31: Sharing the Vision to Achieve Collective Impact

The future is what we make it. Join the evolution.

Please excuse any typos as I construct an article at 3am on only one cup of Joe. These stories are mine and mine alone. I do not represent any organization here. If one of my illustrations looks like a real human or three-headed hydra, that’s total coincidence. Words and images ©Dominic Cappello but share with everyone you know. Questions? Answers await you here:



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