Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bridgespan Guides for Community Collaboratives

Earlier this year, the Bridgespan Group, a consultant to nonprofits and philanthropists, published a report and set of case studies on "needle-moving community collaboratives," cross-sector partnerships that have achieved a 10% or greater change on a community-level indicator. Last month, Bridgespan released a series of three guides to help communities seeking to make significant progress in solving a social problem. According to Bridgespan, the guides are intended for communities that are committed to: achieving needle-moving change, using data for evaluation and continuous improvement, building partnerships across sectors, making a long-term investment, and engaging residents and community members as agents of change.

The three guides cover a variety of topics:
  • Community Collaborative Life Stages - This guide describes the five different stages in the development of a community collaborative, from planning to implementation and improvement or adjustment over time. This guide contains a "roadmap" laying out the stages as well as checklists and critical questions a collaborative must ask itself and best practices gleaned from Bridgespan's cases studies of highly effective community collaboratives.
  • The Next Generation of Community Participation - Successful community collaboratives take the time to understand the needs, as well as the insights, of community members before developing a course of action. This guide provides examples of how cross-sector partnerships can improve their chances of success by listening to the concerns of community members as well as their ideas about how to make significant improvement on a given indicator. The document also describes the "next generation" of community engagement, which goes well beyond data gathering and tries to enlist the affected parties themselves in bringing about change.
  • Capacity and Structure - The final of the three guides deals with capacity, or the staff that will support the work of the collaborative on a regular basis, and structure, meaning the culture, governance body, and rules that will guide the decisions made by the partnership. Several examples of structures from actual collaboratives are provided, along with a list of typical staff roles found in these types of partnerships. This guide concludes with a discussion of issues around funding and the importance of data-driven decision-making and continuous improvement.
To access these guides and other resources for community collaboratives, please visit Bridgespan's website here.

To learn more about Bridgespan's case studies and initial report on this issue, "Needle-Moving Community Collaboratives: A Promising Approach to Addressing America's Biggest Challenges," check out our previous blog post here.

For more information about these and other issues related to leading a community change effort in your community, including self-assessments and tools, please view our blog post announcing the release last fall of CSSP's own guide, "Making a Difference in Your Neighborhood: A Handbook for Using Community Decision-making to Improve the Lives of Children, Youth and Families."

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