Elsewhere: #iwill and Collective Impact

This excellent article from Chloe Donovan and former NUS VP UD Richard Brooks talks about Collective Impact Models and shares some of their evidence for the double benefit of youth social action.

The #iwill campaign is a UK-wide movement that aims to make involvement in meaningful social action (e.g. fundraising, volunteering and campaigning) part of life for 10-20 year old’s by the year 2020.
#iwill is an independent cross-party campaign backed by 700 cross-sector partners. The campaign was launched in November 2013 by HRH The Prince of Wales and the UK’s three main political parties, and is coordinated by the charity Step Up to Serve. For more information about the campaign, please do look at http://www.iwill.org.uk/

We’re proud that one of partners is NUS, and we see every day the work that students and their students’ unions do to better their communities whilst improving themselves. You’ll notice that our definition of social action, matches that of a high-quality student opportunities offer that you’d find in an Students’ Union.

NUS’ recent surveying of their membership which shows over 80,000 active student volunteers and over 9 million raised for charities last year are a testament to this. We know that there is an appetite for students’ unions to do more, and for them to be able to offer opportunities to all their members, in particular those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Collective impact models. First described by John Kania and Mark Kramer in Stanford Social Innovation Review (2011), we use them for deeply entrenched and complex social problems, with multiple stakeholders.

We work with 750 different and disparate partners, from across education, health, voluntary and business sectors. So, the only way we hope to have any significant, sustainable impact is through collective impact models.

There’s a couple of things that are distinctive about a collective impact model;

  • Having a significant, shared and smart goal is incredibly important. All of our partners sign up to the goal of getting 60% of 10 – year olds engaging in regular meaningful social action by 2020 and have an understanding of their expertise and problem areas they can impact.
  • Being able to collect data and measuring results across all partners and mutually reinforcing plans for all partners is significant. We don’t often create work, but support each other to deliver collaborative work. The first question we always ask ourselves is, “is there someone better placed to deliver this?”.
  • Finally, we’re an organising body, not a delivery mechanism. We cajole, inspire and support. Not dissimilar to NUS in some ways.

We think that looking at the relationship between NUS and Students’ Unions through this lens will be helpful for everyone in the student movement, and give you a better understanding of the #iwill campaign as well.

We’ve spent a significant amount of time and energy building up the evidence bank for the benefits that social action can bring to both the individual taking part, as well as wider society. We think that this evidence bank could be potentially very helpful for students’ unions as you look at arguing for funding, resource and space.

At the same time, Students’ Unions do lots of research yourselves, many of which would be applicable to wider audiences, with the correct framing. To see what we already have (including yearly surveys with Ipsos Mori, the business communities view of benefits of social action as well as emotional wellbeing and mental health), please go to http://www.iwill.org.uk/resources/

We’re looking forward to working with NUS and Students’ Unions more in the future, and there’s a couple of ways of doing this.

The first (and most obvious) would be to pledge to be a partner of the campaign. This can be championing the work you’re already doing to support social action, or getting support for you to innovate and stretch yourselves. For more information http://www.iwill.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/iwill_PledgeGuidance-FINAL.pdf

The second is that our annual celebration week – #iwillWeek – is happening on 20th to 24th November. This is where we launch research, new pledges and drive activity and where our partners host events to celebrate the work they do to support youth social action. If you’re interested in hosting an event, please do let us know at hello@stepuptoserve.org.uk

Finally, if you’re collecting data from your members about student opportunities and think it could be shared more widely or have a bigger impact, let us know.


Posted in Elsewhere.

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