Learning for Doing: Israel’s First Collective Impact Conference

Collaborations and joint efforts are increasingly being regarded as important tools for making social services more effective. One of the leading approaches to effective collaboration is “collective impact (CI),” defined as “the commitment of a group of actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a complex social problem.”

In light of a growing interest in Israel in collective impact, a forum of leading Israeli organizations has met over the past year to discuss ways to advance this approach in Israel. These discussions led to the publication of a special issue of a professional journal (in Hebrew) and to Israel’s first conference on this topic, both of which were organized by the Myers-JDC-Brookdale InstituteJDC-Ashalim, the JDC Institute for Leadership and Governance, and Insights.

Held on March 30, 2015, in Tel Aviv, the conference brought together 250 senior leaders, professionals, and policy-makers from all sectors to engage in a series of lectures of CI experts, workshops on case studies, and panel discussions.

Conference participants learned about the theory and practice of collective impact as it is developing within the Israeli context.  Michal Cohen, Director General of the Ministry of Education, shared her growing appreciation of how important it is for the Ministry to work with other sectors in order to promote its goals—a shift from earlier ambivalence about such cooperation. Talal Dolev, Director of 360o The National Program for Children and Youth at Risk, explained how collective impact provides a constructive framework for tackling complex social issues. Sivan Yechieli, head of the local council of Kfar Vradim in the north of Israel, acknowledged the usefulness of collective impact, but pointedly noted the practical challenges involved in cooperating within a single sector, let along across different sectors.

Adding an international flavor to the conference experience were virtual greetings offered by leading CI professionals from the United States, including Jennifer Splansky Juster, Director of the International Collective Impact Forum, Jeff Edmondson, Managing Director of the Cincinnati-based ‘StriveTogether’ Collaboration, and Jay Connor, CI specialist and author of “Community Visions, Community Solutions”. While congratulating the participants for embarking on the CI process in Israel, they also stressed that collective impact takes time and involves significant effort by everyone involved.

In the weeks since the conference, participants have already begun to consider how to promote the next stages of collective impact in Israel. Some are already discussing ideas to develop new initiatives. Other professionals are exploring ways for further application of elements of this approach to existing initiatives.

Well beyond the participants themselves, the conference has sparked further interest in collective impact among government officials and civil society leaders, who are beginning to realize the power that this can to make a difference in how they work with others and how they can bring about positive social change.