Cassandra O’Neill on Engagement for High Impact Collaboration

My name is Cassandra O’Neill and I’ve been a consultant for the past 10 years. I’m a member of a network of consultants and coaches called Wholonomy Consulting.  I’m also the President-Elect for the Arizona Evaluation Network and a member of the AEA Local Affiliate Council. A theme in my work is using effective engagement for high impact collaboration.  I have several resources to share with others interested in increasing the effectiveness and impact of collaborations.

Rad Resource: In 2008 the book Forces for Good by Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant was published. This book studied 12 high impact non profits and found that there were 6 practices which led to their high impact.  These six practices are as follows:

  • Serve and Advocate. Partnering with others was essential to doing both of these well and led to high impact.
  • Make Markets Work. By partnering with corporations these high-impact nonprofits were able to shift corporate practices and work jointly with businesses toward a social good. Many also operated earned income ventures which provide stable funding for their work.
  • Inspire Evangelists. By connecting people with a way to act on their passions, high-impact nonprofits generated powerful and enthusiastic supporters who recruited others.
  • Nurture Nonprofit Networks. These nonprofits helped their peers succeed by continuously asking how they could help others benefit from their own organization’s strengths and knowledge, and this resulted in increased value for all.
  • Master the Art of Adaptation. Constantly assessing the results of their actions, gathering input from a wide group, and applying what they learned in a meaningful way led to high impact.
  • Share Leadership. Strong leadership was present in these nonprofits who had strong a.) Executive Directors, b.) seconds in commands, and c.) boards. Their benches are deep, which allows for collective leadership to emerge and promotes sustainability.

I developed the following worksheet to help people think about these practices, how they might be currently using them, and how they can build on these successes. You are welcome to use this in your work.

This contribution is from the aea365 Daily Tips blog, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to

1 thought on “Cassandra O’Neill on Engagement for High Impact Collaboration”

  1. This is great! Thanks for sharing. Collaboration is an elusive concept for many folks and your chart is a nice way of sorting out the elements identified in the book.

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