Through our practice we have learnt that achieving impact at scale requires both effective collaboration and clarity on what you are seeking to build. Organisations often work in silos, and have different understandings of what is needed, and use different language. In our experience, no single actor can shift a system, and collaboration is essential. Yet the support needed for partners to come together and find common ground is often lacking, and efforts fail when there is no shared route map. We developed the Framework to codify our understanding of what it takes to create lasting impact and enable people to come together to define and shape how they work. The Drive programme is a practical example of this – a collaboration between Social Finance, SafeLives and Respect in the UK to shift the response to perpetrators of domestic violence, as an essential step in changing the wider domestic violence landscape. It sought to address a lack of consensus on how to intervene in this critical area, encourage more statutory interventions and encourage more focus and resources from policy makers.
The Framework is an action orientated tool which encourages all changemakers regardless of sector to define outcomes sought and identify the strategies to achieve them.
On outcomes sought, we have mapped lessons from our and work and examples of successful social ventures by others to define the ‘building blocks’ which hold change in place. Used collaboratively this encourages dialogue around ‘what is missing?’ and helps advance a shared understanding of what is needed, and how to measure progress. When this approach was applied in the Drive programme, through dialogue the partners jointly identified a clear purpose that has continually guided the collaboration over the past 5 years.
On strategies, the Framework identifies ways forward. It identified the foundation for success and encourages reflection on stakeholders’ respective roles. It can also help identify other systemic gaps that need a new approach as the context evolves. In the Drive programme the partners have used this thinking to identify additional opportunities – for example recently starting an innovative pilot to provide housing options for perpetrators, enabling earlier intervention.
The tool has been very well received in a wide range of settings – being used by funders, statutory stakeholders and NGOs to think about their goals and respective roles, opening up more space for cooperation with others. For example, it is starting to reinvigorate a UK funder collaboration around Violence Impacting Young People, providing a new clarity of focus.
This systematic approach has been used very successfully on the Drive programme. The partnership has benefited from clarity on roles, enabling three organisations who had not worked together to define clear shared system goals and have a clear framework to sustain the collaboration, whilst also pursuing their own complementary work. We launched and scaled an new model which is creating an independently evaluated evidence base, and challenged the status quo through shifting the narrative around the issue, engaging policy makers and minsters and shaping wider practice. We drew others in, with 120 organisations signing Drive’s Call to Action to government. It was cited as being central to the decision to embed a perpetrator focus in the recent Domestic Abuse Act and unlocked £45m of new government funding.
Key Insights / Advice to Peers
- Enable collaborations to start with a problem, not a solution: So often scaling attempts start with a particular solution (and hence an organisational lens), from which it is harder to build collaborations. The Framework helps build towards shared system-level goals that better enable stakeholders to locate their own role. However, resources often flow to end solutions and miss this process of initial exploration, which is essential to success. Funders should try and provide the capacity to start thinking and collaborating differently. At the outset, Drive benefited from such funding and set the foundation for what’s been achieved.
- Develop a shared narrative: Achieving impact at scale often needs a combination of new services or practices, systems embedding change and new perspectives. The Framework can be useful for reminding stakeholders of the need to focus on all three and develop the narratives that sit across all of On the Drive programme, the overarching reframing narrative – shifting from ‘why doesn’t she leave?’ to asking ‘why doesn’t he stop?’ – has been very powerful in enabling change.
- Work with the context: We’ve found that successful approaches are often those that work with, rather than against, the grain of the policy context, whilst also stretching and pushing against some of these policies in the areas that matter. To do this successfully needs tools like the Framework to continually focus and refocus stakeholders on their shared goals and to be open to new strategies. The Drive programme has continued to adapt to respond to the context, for example using the shift to online delivery during Covid to broaden its training offer to help non-specialist professionals.
- The Changing Lives, Changing Systems: Building Routes to Scale report and its sister report on the Drive programme – Lessons in Reducing and Prevening Domestic Abuse
- Building Routes to Scale Framework
- CLCS Lessons from reducing and preventing domestic abuse
- Drive programme case study
- Social Finance UK CoLab Award Submission