Growing a Community of Interest to Maximize the Impact of Your Partnership

Why do people join organizations?  Every year the American Society for Association Executives conducts a survey of representatives of organizations ranging from local chambers of commerce to international trade unions to find the answer to that question. Year in and year out the answer remains: people want to be part of something bigger than themselves. The same motivation extends to partnerships of people from across organizations and sectors. Driven to impact society in a positive way, partners voluntarily provide resources, time, and even money to the cause.


Once they have their core partners in place, many partnerships can benefit from growing a “community of interest,” or a larger circle of individuals and organizations who may not have the resources, time, or money to contribute to the partnership on a regular basis but who care about the cause and want to be kept in the loop. If well managed, this kind of engagement can dramatically multiply the partnership’s impact and reach. The knowledge, skills, and networks of the community of interest can be leveraged at key points to increase the probability of the partnership’s success.


Engaging effectively with these “concentric circles” can be tricky, though. CollaborateUp’s Collective Impact Field Guide suggests creating a backbone organization to coordinate with the community of interest. The backbone organization works with leadership in the partnership to determine which kinds of organizations should be included in the community of interest, how to reach out and engage them, and what input to gather from them. The backbone provides the “glue” that keeps collaboration in a partnership strong.


If you’d like to learn more about how to expand and manage interest in a partnership, we invite you to join us for our next CollaborateUp Academy, April 11-12 The Academy is an interactive course designed to kick start social innovation by introducing individuals and teams to core concepts in collaboration, innovation, and facilitation through hands-on practice and experience.


Be sure to stay up to date with new information regarding our academy and initiatives by liking CollaborateUp on Facebook and following us on Twitter!



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