Last week, I started this article about the benefits of collaborating with another non-profit agency in your community. In that first part, I listed three very good reasons why you should consider such a move with your organization. They were:
- You’ll have a super-charged opportunity to carry out your mission.
- Collaboration forces your group to precisely define your mission.
- You have the chance to put the best of your organization together with the best of another organization, which creates a learning atmosphere for your employees.
In this second part, I have two more ideas for you to think about before committing to a strategic partnership with another non-profit.
The fourth (overall) reason you should be thinking about a collaborative relationship is that it would give you the opportunity to undertake a project that would normally be too large or too complex for just your group alone. I know, as a former non-profit manager, that my vision often exceeded my grasp. I was regularly thinking about doing things that were within the scope of our mission, but, were logistically beyond our capabilities, whether for reasons of budget, staffing limitations, or volunteer support. That was very frustrating to me professionally.
However, if you find one or even two groups to team up with, and you all contribute to a common goal, that goal can be huge. With a great diversity of talents, skill sets, and resources, multiple groups have the ability to accomplish great and complicated goals working together.
And in the end, that’s the reason we all got involved with a non-profit in the first place- to help people. We’d be silly, and possibly even negligent, if we didn’t explore every opportunity to do a better and more effective job. Combining efforts of like-minded professionals is a tool that everyone in our line of work should be actively pursuing, if only because it helps you be better at what you do.
The last reason I’ll write about on this topic is a very practical consideration. One of the major sources of non-profit fundraising comes from grant writing. Philanthropic foundations are the lifeblood of many non-profits. University level classes are offered in how to better write grant proposals that get noticed amid the thousands that are submitted each year. It’s a really big deal.
The people who work at these grant-making foundations have a great insight into what’s going on in non-profit America. They see hundreds of proposals from vastly different groups, and each one of the applicants thinks that they deserve the award. Therefore, these grant-makers need to have strict guidelines that help them make wise decisions on where to allocate their money.
One of the basic qualities that grant-makers look for in proposals is whether or not a group is actively seeking partnerships with other non-profits. These decision makers know that two heads are better than one, so if they see just a single entity trying to “save the world”, they may not be as optimistic about that group.
Collaboration shows the grant maker that the non-profit is creative, open to new ideas, forward thinking, committed to their cause, secure in their own abilities, and actively plugged into their field. That seems like a much better bet than a group that is not any of those things.
When I read back over this article and the first one in this two-part series, I can come up with one last, summarizing reason to work with another group. It’s not very sophisticated, and it will probably make me sound like I have attention deficit issues, which I probably do anyway. But, nonetheless, I think it’s true. Throwing your organization together with another group is just more exciting than not doing it. Showing up to work everyday, seeing the same people, and doing the same thing can get really BORING! But, coming up with fresh new ideas, working with different folks, and tackling huge problems really gets me fired up!
I hope you take a few minutes to toss these ideas around with your co-workers and maybe come up with some very cool ideas on ways you can help your cause by working with others.
Photo By: liza31337