A few months ago, Susan Towler, executive director of the Florida Blue Foundation, invited me to participate in a session at the August 2012 Florida Council on Aging Conference around the collaboration topic.
What prompted the invitation?
Susan sat in on a track I moderated at the 2011 Southeastern Council of Foundations Annual Meeting, where four foundations shared their experiences in facilitating collaborations. She thought the topic was timely for agencies in the aging space.
At The Patterson Foundation, we call this ‘building connective tissue.’
My role was to highlight a few examples of collaboration models from around the U.S. and a few from Florida. To prepare for the session, I went to the mother lode of nonprofit partnerships — The Collaboration Prize Database (housed at the Foundation Center) to pull examples of partnerships among two or more agencies who serve the elderly.
I found lots of examples outside of Florida, but scant few within. Failure? No, I see opportunity.
Susan’s role was to share collaboration efforts by Florida Blue on childhood obesity and the many community connections made to move the needle. Impressive. They are doing it ‘right’.
What I hope many attendees realized is that there is a great opportunity for collaboration among agencies in the aging space. During the ”Engaging Funders in Elder Issues” presentation, by a show of hands, I estimated the attendees were 90 percent nonprofits and 10 percent funders. As soon as I began describing examples of partnerships, hands shot to paper to capture the information.
Although short, the Q&A was lively, and Susan and I stayed around to answer questions. The session evaluations showed that our message was appreciated – while one person said he or she was unmoved… and was a pretty tough grader!
Susan brought plenty of material on Blue Cross Blue Shield initiatives for the attendees. I handed out a 4×6 card with resources:
- The Collaboration Prize
- SECF’s EngAGEment Initiative, a collaboration of SECF members who want to learn and share about the aging space.
- A link to this blog (yes, yes, shameless promotion!)
If you are aware of partnerships in the elderly/aging space in Florida, please share!