Key Points

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals can be a useful framework on which to design, evaluate, and communicate collective impact initiatives. Using as a case study the FutureMakers Coalition, a collective impact initiative launched by the Southwest Florida Community Foundation to transform its region’s workforce, the field can gain insights into how the goals can strengthen collective impact work locally and nationally.

This article will discuss how the foundation facilitated the setting of a common agenda and the use of the Sustainable Development Goals to help build consensus among 251 active partners on how to measure progress toward the coalition’s shared goal. By aligning program design and evaluation with the goals and agreeing to key indicators, each coalition member understood which data needed to be collected and when to establish baselines and measure outcomes and impact. Annual assessments were shared with the coalition and the public. This approach, using the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework, helped build teamwork, trust, and presence, allowing cross-sector community partners to spend significantly less time aligning separate agendas and metrics.

Design and assessment centered on the Sustainable Development Goals can expedite organizing and reporting for collective impact and provide foundations with an important formative role in program design and evaluation. This article illustrates the need for cross-sector collaboration to solve complex problems, and how setting a common goal is just one step in keeping a diverse group of stakeholders moving in the same direction and making data-driven decisions.

Open Access