Rethinking Common Backbone Functions as Capacities

Rethinking Common Backbone Functions as Capacities

Published: Mar 03, 2021
Publisher: Mathematica and Equal Measure
Associated Project

Tools and Resources for Advancing Community-Based Systems Change

Time frame: 2018-2021

Prepared for:

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


Matthew Closter

A collage of students and teachers

In 2011, John Kania and Mark Kramer issued a foundational article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review that identified five conditions for organizations to achieve large-scale social change and the instrumental role that backbone organizations have coordinating and facilitating cross-sector collaboration. Today, backbone organizations and partners are still well positioned to assess and respond to community needs—particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic, racial justice movements, and economic hardships. But shifting systems requires repurposing certain functions from the backbone and devolving some of them to partners for stronger community ownership. In this resource, Mathematica and Equal Measure grouped backbone functions into four categories and identified some of the key capacities to perform these functions effectively to achieve collective goals throughout a community.

Read more about Matthew Closter, senior consultant at Equal Measure.

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