Seems like every day I read or hear about Nashville being on top of another national list. In fact, over the Labor Day weekend, Nashville was just named the most “American City” based on a demographic analysis by personal finance website WalletHub. Nashville is also ranked as one of the top five regions for job growth and one of the best places for a technology start up, not to mention the growing food scene and popularity of the hit ABC show. In fact, Nashville was referred to by GQ as “Nowville” and by Time Magazine as the “The South’s Red-Hot Town.”
While all these accolades are part of why I love living here, as a philanthropic practitioner, I wondered if we might have some additional potential to become the "it" city for collective impact. Admittedly more esoteric than the other rankings and potentially not front page newsworthy, collective impact is defined by the Foundation Strategy Group (FSG) as “the commitment of a group of actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a complex social problem”.
I would also like to think that in this time of innovation, collective impact could also be organized around a new opportunity.
Based on that expanded definition, it seems we have many initiatives that would meet the test. From recent initiatives like How’s Nashville, Childcare Nashville and the Faith-Based Clinic Enrollment Project to older ones like Alignment Nashville and Family Resource Centers to really old ones like Nashville’s Agenda and Tying Nashville Together, our city has on many occasions tested its metal on efforts requiring collective action by multiple non-profits working alongside government, business and the philanthropic sector.
Now to be sure, collective impact is hard work and requires that individual organizations designed to focus on individual strategic plans focus on combined impact and a larger vision. It requires a foundation of trust between both organizations and individuals and is fueled by transparency, innovation and the potential for local and national philanthropic investment.
The question would be how to celebrate and ignite current efforts and inspire new ones and to that end, I’m excited about the next round of Collaboration College, where in addition to multi-agency collaborations, we will also provide resources and support to collective impact ideas involving both the non-profit and governmental sector to tackle some of our communities’ current challenges. We've even expanded our planning and support team to include Baptist Healing Trust, well-respected for their work with local agency leaders and non-profits and the backbone organization for the collective impact effort represented by Get Covered Tennessee.
As you think about the issues that keep you up at night, be they education, healthcare, housing, seniors, youth, food security, etc. perhaps there are others in different organizations and sectors that could join forces with you in new ways to tackle some of our most difficult challenges. So that while we continue to be proud of our community’s reputation as an “it" city at the top of the lists and work to attract more tourists and businesses, we continue to pay attention to our neighbors in need using every resource, public, private, non-profit and philanthropic to provide the best and most impactful level of solutions and service.
If you have ideas about how to begin new conversations around collective impact, please share them by commenting on this blog and stay tuned for more opportunities and information. For more information on collective impact, check out FSG’s website.
Together, we can work to make Nashville the "it" city for all.-Joanne Pulles, President of The HCA Foundation