What we are really talking about when we talk about collective impact
By Anna Northey
It’s hard to avoid references to innovation hubs, network alliances and other efforts for increased collaboration when it comes to our global effort to find more effective solutions in poverty reduction. But as positive outcomes from increased cohesion between development, private and public sectors become more and more prevalent, some other benefits are also worth noting. On a more practical level partnership and collaboration also means greater access to a vast and highly specialized pool of valuable additional resources.
Recently, Kopernik implemented the second phase of a simple yet effective project here in Bali, in partnership with PUSPADI Bali and funded by the Australian Government’s AVID Disability Grant Initiative. The project made water purifying filters available to 50 people living with disabilities in Karangasem, Bali; improving access to clean water and reducing risk of waterborne disease and other health issues.
The design of the project and application for the grant was a joint effort between Kopernik and PUSPADI Bali.
But what was interesting to see following the completion of the project was not only the positive outcomes for people in one of Bali’s poorest and most remote areas, but also the streamlined and lean implementation of the project itself. By leveraging the expertise and unique skills from two organizations and finding a way for them to work together, fantastic results were achieved with minimal strain on the resources of either party.
The story of one of the recipients of filters paints a picture of the value of partnership projects like this.
37-year-old I Kadek Sudana’s spine was paralyzed from the waist down after his truck rolled over his legs and back approximately 18 months ago. With limited access to employment and income opportunities to buy clean water and difficulties travelling to the spring water source, receiving the water filter meant a great deal to Kadek Sudana. Now, he and his family can enjoy purified drinking water, prevent unnecessary illness, and redirect time and money saved towards other priority areas.
While Kopernik specializes in finding smart solutions like simple and affordable water filters and connecting these with remote communities, working in the disability sector is not our forte. However, PUSPADI Bali has almost two decades of experience advocating to build greater inclusion opportunities for those living with disabilities across Indonesia. So, when the idea came up to partner with PUSPADI Bali and assist their client base, the decision to proceed was a no-brainer. With little time and resource on both sides, the results were significant.
So, when we talk about collective impact what we are also talking about is seeing an opportunity to utilise our collective resources more wisely. And, importantly, we’re also talking about recognizing our own limitations. All too often, in non-profits and for-profit organizations alike, we try to do it all. But perhaps what we actually need to do is collaborate with the amazing and specialized partners around us and start utilizing our people, money and time in a more effective and meaningful way for greater impact.
Kopernik is an Indonesian-based organization that finds what works to reduce poverty, by working directly with last mile communities and in collaboration with cross-sectoral partners.
PUSPADI Bali is a disability rehabilitation, education, training and empowerment organisation, which work with people with disabilities in Bali and Eastern Indonesia.
Anna Northey is the Communications Advisor at Kopernik working in Bali, Indonesia. She is Australian Volunteer for International Development (AVID) — an Australian Government Initiative.