It can be frustrating when nonprofits are aware of needs in the community, whether attributed to individuals or issues, but do not have the resources or staff to accomplish those specific goals. Their employees have great ideas and great energy, but sometimes there just isn’t enough of either to tackle the tasks needed in their community.
When this happens, it can be disappointing at best and dire at worst. Nonprofits provide extensive programming to their communities but are sometimes brought to a standstill because a lack of funding, manpower or various logistics prevent them from achieving the results they want and know the community needs.
That is where nonprofit collaboration comes into play. Nonprofits are resourceful and when they partner with other organizations in their community, the resources can extend even further. So, if your nonprofit is looking for ideas of how to collaborate more with others to continue your incredible work, keep reading. Not only will you be pooling some of your resources which can increase the likeness of success, you will be able to identify and reduce duplication of services as well.
Where to Begin?
Most nonprofits may have experienced periods of financial drought or limited resources throughout the years. The economy changes and budgets fluctuate. Or, unfortunately, circumstances like natural disasters can influence a community’s emergency needs. One agency can’t do all the work alone, nor are they expected to, but these are tough words to swallow when there are issues to address or individuals to care for.
Just because the focus shifts doesn’t mean the issues at hand cease to exist. Sure, this can be a crushing setback, but it can also be an opportunity. The nonprofit sector is not and never will be a “one and done”. We must always be reassessing and re-evaluating the needs of our community.
And that’s where we start. Identify the community needs and then create a list of which organization does what and where, and for how long and at what financial cost. This will help in identifying where the gaps are and how collaboration can fill in those spots where needs exist. Remember we talked about reducing duplication of services. This can be an opportunity to better utilize some of those resources and ensure maximum impact while reducing waste.
What Are the Next Steps in the Plan?
This is where your collaborative efforts begin to take shape. The informal conversation about possibly working together leads to a more formal agreement with resources and goals in mind. Each member of this partnership must be aware of the scope of commitment each other can provide. While you are linking services to address a broader mission, parameters must be in place to ensure a smooth delivery of services.
The Ever-Present Notion of Collective Impact
There is no organization in the nonprofit sector that is unaware of collective impact especially when it influences securing funding for programs or other initiatives. Funders from corporations to private foundations to government entities want to see that nonprofits are ready and willing to collaborate in order to pull resources and reduce the risk of duplicating efforts.
This sounds great in theory, but often funders don’t realize how difficult collaboration can be to coordinate program logistics and execute services. Nonprofit organizations must employ a detailed development plan with their partners to assure funders that programs will operate with efficiency and eliminate waste or duplication. Adhering to a strategy of collective impact can improve the chances of full funding in order to execute programmatic goals.
Playing Nice and Making Friends
There will be complexities along the way that can create challenges as well as the unexpected unseen forces that can hopefully move each organization to adapt with flexibility and grace. Nonprofit organizations and the people they employ are driven by a passion to improve the lives of all individuals in their communities as well as address needs that make their towns and cities robust with education and culture. Keeping in mind the initial reason for the collaboration to take place should cement the overarching mission of providing services to those in need and benefiting the community in which all belong.