A Big Picture Approach to Community Impact

Empowering Partnerships to Change Outcomes

Every day, leaders across America launch exciting ideas to improve lives.

They bring together the smartest people in their communities to tackle the toughest problems. Armed with great intentions and unbound ambition, they .  .  .

Form partnerships.

Set goals.

Work hard.

Make progress.

Hit roadblocks.

Miss goals.

And wonder . . .

What can they do differently to achieve real impact?

The Big Picture

To make broad-scale change that lasts, community partnerships must address the complex and interconnected challenges that impede progress. They need to take a Big Picture Approach to community change.

A Big Picture Approach helps leaders build the infrastructure to manage change in their communities.

This approach, created by the Forum for Youth Investment and Community Systems Group, follows five field-tested steps that align with the five steps of collective impact. (The Forum is a member of FSG’s Collective Impact Forum.)


The Big Picture Approach guides leaders through those steps while adhering to these guidelines:

  • Take a whole person or whole family perspective.
  • Promote alignment with other community actors, across silos.
  • Focus on local diagnoses of root causes and on broad systems change.
  • Address immediate problems as part of an aspirational strategy for long-term well-being.

See these principles fully explained.

The Big Picture Approach works at multiple levels – from top leadership groups to neighborhood coalitions – and aligns the work across those levels by:

Aligning structures, goals and strategies.
Assuring mutually reinforcing interventions.
Assessing through shared measurements.
See how.



These materials support leaders who have completed the Big Picture Approach trainings provided by the Forum for Youth Investment and Community Systems Group. Those leaders have assessed the efforts of their partnerships according to Big Picture “completeness checks,” and are applying the processes and tools of effective community problem-solving to their local needs.