Skip to main content
Community Contribution

How is Collective Action Related to CLA Enabling Conditions?

Sep 02, 2022
Shannon Griswold

Collective Action is an intentional and agreed-upon process that engages interested parties to take joint actions in support of shared objectives or a shared issue, and represents one of many methods to implement USAID’s Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA) framework. This is part two of a series of blogs that will help readers to understand the relationship between Collective Action and CLA. It points the reader to Collective Action guides and resources in the CLA Toolkit that can help them use Collective Action to implement CLA.


One of the most important factors for success of Collective Action include openness of coalition members - trust among coalition members is critical and can be built (or eroded) over time. Evidence collected through the case studies suggests one way to foster trust is to build a culture of continuous learning and improvement, by entering into each interaction with humility and vulnerability. Being the first to acknowledge that you don’t know all the answers or have even tried and failed at solving this problem before sets the tone that we’re all on the same side and that it’s safe for others to bring their ideas and learning from failure to the table as well. The CLA Toolkit contains additional resources on aspects of organizational culture that foster CLA - in the case of Collective Action, keep in mind that this applies both to the culture of member organizations and to the culture of the coalition itself. Module 3 of both guides (Facilitators’ Guide, Mission Guide) speaks to specific considerations around power dynamics when USAID is supporting a Collective Action effort, which can contribute either positively or negatively to success, so should not be taken for granted.


Collective Action differs from other collaboration models in that it is characterized by relatively more structured engagement and more established processes. This helps to maintain transparency and governance around decision-making and roles and responsibilities of coalition members as things evolve. Module 6 in the Facilitators' Guide is devoted to operational processes that contribute to the success of Collective Action.


Modules 7 & 8 in the Mission Guide speak to budgeting and soliciting for Collective Action. Depending on the role that USAID takes within a coalition, the outlay of funds could seem relatively low due to sharing or leveraging resources from other coalition members. Alternatively, it might seem high if USAID is underwriting costs associated with participating in the coalition for many local organizations. In addition to the financial resources, it’s also important to keep in mind the investment of time, particularly the AOR/COR’s time in building and maintaining relationships across the coalition. Additional resources that might be helpful for resourcing CLA (including the Collective Action approach) can be found in the Resourcing CLA section of the CLA Toolkit.

Please share your thoughts, any resources you find helpful and links to current or closed projects and activities, and feedback on these guides as you get to know them to [email protected]. We would love to hear from you.

About the authors
Shannon Griswold

Shannon joined USAID's Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning in 2020, and has been working on CLA in other parts of USAID since 2014. She has a strong background in using learning and evidence for adaptive management, innovative/ participatory evaluation methods, facilitating fun workshops, and designing learning activities to make them useful.