Access Accelerated and partners host UNGA event to explore the hidden benefits of partnerships

It’s more apparent than ever that collective action will play a critical role in reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and as its importance increases, so does the need to clearly assess the impacts of coordinated partnerships. 

The value of cross-sector, multi-stakeholder collaborationsfrom maximizing available resources to capitalizing on collective expertise to yield more creative solutionsmay seem obvious, but measuring that value can be complicated.

“Truly coordinated collaboration leads to things like synergy, shared goals, learning and trust,” describes Kyle Peterson, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Boldly Go Philanthropy. “For a long time, these intangible benefits have been elusive to definition and measurement, which has greatly undervalued the impact of collective action.”

Understanding and measuring how those intangible benefits reinforce what we often refer to as “connective tissue”the social capital, knowledge creation and trust that come from deliberate coordination between organizations or sectorscan strengthen partnerships and help to better respond to complex social issues like noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).

“Coordinated, collaborative approaches are essential to reach the UN SDGs,” says Access Accelerated Director Martin Bernhardt. “No longer can we rely on the individual and often fragmented approach to solving the world’s most urgent challenges; it is shared goals that will drive sustainable, scalable impact and change. That is why we must invest in new tools and a different way of evaluating joint efforts and the value it delivers.” 

The unique challenges of measuring collective effort

Understanding and measuring the less visible and quantifiable elements of connective tissue that help to hold partnerships in place is not a straightforward endeavor. Simply adding up the value of individual efforts won’t paint a complete picture, and effective collective action doesn’t even necessarily require that stakeholders share the same objectives.

Cross-sector partnerships are also inherently ambitious and often seek to effect far-reaching and systemic change that can be difficult to quantify, which adds another hurdle when measuring collective impact. Navigating this complexity demands a robust and thoughtfully designed measurement framework that accounts for both the quantitative and qualitative value of collaboration.  How do we know if our collective efforts are leading to impact? Can we clearly link cause and effect? 

A new framework to measure the intangible 

To better understand the impact of its investments in collective action, Access Accelerated engaged RTI International to design a measurement framework that captures both the individual and collective impacts of Access Accelerated partner projects. 

The measurement framework monitors a streamlined set of indicators, supported by accompanying narratives to evaluate the totality of partner efforts to achieve population and systems-level change. This approach enabled the measurement not only of quantitative metrics but also captured that difficult-to-quantify connective tissue.

“This framework goes beyond measuring individual project outputs and assesses a broader range of benefits and value generated, which produces more meaningful and novel results,” explains Rachel Nugent, Vice President, Global Noncommunicable Diseases at RTI International. “By adopting a broader, more flexible and more adaptable framework, this helps Access Accelerated and its partnersand ultimately other collaborative-driven initiativesto identify, define and measure value that has been previously unexplored in assessing joint action.” 

UNGA Side Event: Unlocking the potential for collective impact

To explore how measurement frameworks can offer greater visibility of the value of collective action, Access Accelerated, in conjunction with RTI International and along with its partners, City Cancer Challenge, NCD Alliance, PATH, World Bank and the World Heart Federation, is hosting a special UNGA side event open to anyone working towards the SDGs through collective partnerships. 

Register to attend the event

September 22, 6pm – 7.30pm
followed by a cocktail reception
The Harvard Club, New York 

For more information, including speakers, visit the event page