Community Building, Community Needs: the Monadnock United Way

In order for our region to improve the quality of life for all citizens, we cannot simply collaborate on a program, rather we can support development of collective impact, where collaborative action is rooted in aligned goals, resources, work plans and measurements. If we simply collaborate with one another, each organization, agency, school system, government, citizen, and business still has its own agenda and a vision for its own success. Operating this way impairs progress in communities and makes it much harder to achieve important goals.

Assessments of the United Way tell us that the most significant gaps in the quality of life in the Monadnock Region are in the areas of educational attainment, child welfare and economic opportunity

Large scale social change of complex problems requires an aligned and coordinated effort among all non-profit, for profit, spiritual, civic, cultural, safety and health organizations, government, business, funders/philanthropists and citizens that make up a community. The factors we need are:

The Common Agenda: All participants must have a shared vision for change including a common understanding of the problem and a joint approach to solving it through agreed upon actions.

Shared Measurement: Data and results must be collected and measured consistently across all participants to ensure that efforts remain aligned and so participants can hold each other accountable.

Mutually Reinforcing Activities: Participant activities must be differentiated while still being coordinated through a mutually reinforcing plan of action.

Continuous Communication: Consistent and open communication is needed across the many players to build trust, assure mutual objectives, and create common motivation.

Backbone Support: Creating and managing collective impact requires a separate organization(s) with staff and a specific set of skills to serve as the backbone for the entire initiative and coordinate participating organizations and agencies.

With each individual’s contribution aligned with all others, change for issues in education, child welfare, and economic development in our region is possible.

For more information, see the Monadnock United Way’s new study: Community Well-Being in the Monadnock Region.