Mark Kramer on Collective Impact

Twitter = @FSGTweets

Mark Kramer is the Founder and Managing Director of FSG, a nonprofit consulting firm he co-founded with Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter. FSG helps organizations achieve greater impact by applying research, strategy, and evaluation to better solve social problems. Mark also serves as a a Senior Fellow in the CSR Initiative at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Mark is a Founder and the first Board Chair of the Center for Effective Philanthropy. He is published in the Harvard Business Review, Stanford Social Innovation Review, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and other outlets. He is co-author of the book "Do More Than Give," which is a call to action for philanthropists. 

Prior to founding FSG, Mark served for twelve years as President of Kramer Capital Management, a venture capital firm, and as an Associate at the law firm of Ropes & Gray in Boston.  He received a B.A. summa cum laude from Brandeis University, an M.B.A. from The Wharton School, and a J.D. magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Mark is an accomplished speaker and author, and has published extensively on topics in philanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility, including strategy, evaluation, leadership, social entrepreneurship, community foundations, venture philanthropy, cross-sector collaborations, and social investments. 

Today, Mark speaks to the Philanthropy Hour on the theories of Collective Impact, Shared Value, and of catalytic philanthropy. He addresses the idea of individuals as change makers, and the secret to truly impactful, catalytic philanthropy. This is not about inventing new business models, or recreating systems, but about aligning our values with our intentions, and opening lines of communications. There must also be an understanding that catalytic change can ever occur without the collaboration of multiple organizations, working across sectors, with a common agenda. 


In this interview, we discuss:

  1. How people make social change, not the money. (4:10)
  2. Why the failure of complex systems is the cause of so many social problems. (7:15)
  3. What is the theory of collective impact, and real life examples in action. (12:30)
  4. What is Shared Value, and how does it apply to social solutions.  (18:00)
  5. The new trends in corporate philanthropy, and how their is profit potential in being part of the solution.  (21:45)
  6. How Mark is in the business of big ideas, and why he's hopeful for new approaches. (26:30)


"No single intervention, operating alone, is really able to make a lasting change at scale on a major social problem."  -Mark Kramer


  1. More about Mark and a list of his publications
  2. The Shared Value Initiative and Summit. 
  3. The Competitive Advantage of Corporate Philanthropy article. 
  4. Catalytic Philanthropy article in Stanford Social Innovation Review. 
  5. Do More Than Give book. 
  6. The Good Jobs Strategy by Zeynep Ton (book recommendation).


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