Many social change groups employ formalized multiparty collaborative efforts to create sustainable social change around today's complex public issues. This study investigates the role and perspective of foundations in these interorganizational collaboratives, specifically collective impact initiatives. It highlights a disconnect between the traditional culture of philanthropy that provides only short-term funding and the long-term nature of systems change. This paradox hinders the impact that foundations and nonprofits alike can make toward addressing complex issues. The study recommends that nonprofits and foundations take active roles in changing the narrative of separatism between philanthropy and nonprofits and begin seeing themselves as part of one interconnected system. This will require foundations to become more active participants and make longer term investments in interorganizational change efforts. Social change groups in turn must consider foundations as more than a funding stream and include them in the cocreation of the collective impact effort and evaluation.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (MA) -- Organization Development; Social change -- Economic aspects; Nonprofit organizations -- Management; Social entrepreneurship; Organizational effectiveness

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graziadio Business School



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Egan, Terri;