What are Backbone Organizations?

Backbone organizations serve as coordinating bodies that bring together a diversity of stakeholders and lead a synchronized effort to achieve a common goal. In healthcare, these organizations can take a number of forms (including local public health departments, hospitals, foundations and others), but share six key functions that distinguish them from other conveners. Over the lifecycle of an initiative, they: (1) guide the vision and strategy, (2) support aligned initiatives, (3) establish shared measurement practices, (4) build public will, (5) advance policy and (6) mobilize funding. Backbone organizations are a central element of the Collective Impact theory, which states that “no single policy, government department, organization or program can tackle or solve the increasingly complex social problems we face as a society.”

For more information, see Research Brief No. 26, Community Level, Multi-Stakeholder Approaches to Improve Healthcare Value