In today’s world of limited resources, many nonprofits are collaborating with other organizations for skills, resources, and contacts. Recent surveys conducted by the Bridgespan Group and the Patterson Foundation reveal that 91 percent of nonprofits engage in some form of collaboration.
Some reasons to collaborate
- Reduce costs-A collaboration can help with expenses because it balances out the costs between both organizations.
- Maximize efficiencies- Dividing up tasks can save time, allowing those in each organization to focus on specific efforts achieving more.
- The ability to offer better programs and services- Collaboration can help strengthen an organization’s programs by combining existing programs or forming new ones. With more resources and tools, organizations can extend their reach.
- Increase credibility- Collaborating with a trusted source can help to build trust with your existing constituents and strengthen your nonprofit’s mission.
Collaborative goals are agreed upon by listening, discussing, prioritizing, and evaluating targets and objectives together. Start by setting specific goals and make sure there is enough information for each goal so that everyone involved can collaborate effectively. The diversity of ideas creates more opportunity which leads to more growth for everyone involved.
The most important part of a collaboration is encouraging honest and open communication. This can lead to better ideas and greater outcomes. For people to grow trust, they must learn to problem-solve together, and to rely on each other to face new challenges, allowing everyone to be more resourceful.
Expect a few conflicting views and adapt
If you expect that there will be a few conflicts during the collaboration, you will be prepared to deal with them and move on as easily as possible. The plus side of conflict and diversity is that it causes people to consider other perspectives and possibilities that would otherwise be ignored. Well-managed conflicts can offer the needed friction that polishes the final collective effort. Once the collaboration is over, make sure that everyone knows they are appreciated for their contributions.
Evaluate and share lessons
Once your collaboration is finished, it’s important to review how the collaboration has improved your nonprofit’s mission. This is your chance to evaluate whether project objectives and goals were met, determine how effectively the project was run, and discover what you learned in an effort to get a better outcome for future projects.