Measuring Success | Collective Impact’s Power to Transform Jewish Community
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Collective Impact’s Power to Transform Jewish Community

Collective Impact’s Power to Transform Jewish Community

By Sacha Litman


One of the big new trends in philanthropy, being played out in education, healthcare, and social services is “Collective Impact.” This new impact-assessment concept relies upon the cooperation of organizations that serve the same population, and, critically, the integration of data systems across those organizations to ensure that beneficiaries are being served effectively over time. The Jewish community, like the broader social sector, can benefit from harnessing the power of Collective Impact to become stronger, more participatory, and more responsive to the needs of its people.

I would like to demonstrate the power of collective impact by drawing upon two examples from the social sector. We are currently working with Southern Methodist University’s The School Zone initiative to merge 45 datasets from school districts, social service groups, and non-profits in order to determine the drivers behind whether or not a child graduates from high school. By bridging graduation rates, test scores, and other measures of academic performance in a way that can identify uniquely influential programs and interventions, we can better understand how to help children succeed.

Similarly, we have worked with LIVESTRONG Foundation to pool the data from their diverse partner organizations in order to gain a more accurate picture of which treatments and interventions are most valuable to cancer survivors. LIVESTRONG is now able to better assess client needs, modify service activities and workflows, and even generate additional revenue.

What can we learn from these examples and how can it be applied to the Jewish community? Unfortunately, we know that the Jewish community suffers from the same problem facing Dallas’s inner city schoolchildren—a leaky pipeline.  It is caused by the same silo-izations between organizations that exist throughout much of our civic and non-profit life. There is lack of coordination between affiliate groups and little linking of data islands.

GrapeVine is here to fill that void. While some may think of GrapeVine as an app or product, it is actually so much more. Its mission is to build the Jewish community’s capacity to engage its members by encouraging our culture to embrace collaboration among organizations. GrapeVine’s integrated database architecture enables us to link the islands of data across our respective organizations, improve data capture in social media and elsewhere, and perform predictive analytics and business intelligence. Organizations involved in GrapeVine experience customer retention, lead generation, and the ability to measure impact.

Collective impact has the power to transform the Jewish community, if we allow ourselves to work together towards that end. All it takes is organizations to recognize that linking data silos allows them to better understand their constituents and thus provide the most useful services and support. After all, if big data and collective impact can be used by President Obama to win elections and Amazon to generate over 50% of their sales, isn’t it time the Jewish community leverage this tool as well?