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A BIG question for Collective Impacts globally: Backbone and Funding, How Do We Stay Afloat?

Funding a backbone may have different meaning and value to different funders. While it is easier to pitch for a project funding, could it be harder to justify funding a backbone to a diverse group of funders? Does the maturity level of a backbone affect funding?

In March 2019, Collective Impact Forum ran a survey among its members to understand trends in backbone funding, what challenges organisations are facing, and what fundraising strategies are working well. The survey garnered 250 responses from backbone organizations who represent collective impact efforts focusing on diverse issues, including Education & Youth, Employment, Environment, Health & Nutrition, and several others.

According to the survey, here are some recommendations by the respondents for engaging with funders:
Be very specific about what the backbone role enables.
Speak the language of the funder.
Get creative about program funding.
Invest in data capacity.
Set realistic expectations about results over time.
Think about segmenting functions to appeal to different funders.
Be clear about the value-add of the collective impact approach overall.

Key messages include
a) Collective impact helps achieve community-level results, not only results in one programme at a time;
b) Collective impact helps to scale what is working in one part of the community across an entire community; and
c) Collective impact brings organisations together to change systems, not only implement programmes.
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