Government + Business + NonProfit = Interesting Collaboration

Government + Business + NonProfit = Interesting Collaboration

Posted on July 20, 2012 by Michael Corley

Some issues or problems are so big and complex that no one single entity or sector alone can make a significant impact.

Think poverty.

Think education.

Think healthcare.

So when the Department of Health and Human Services identified a goal of  maximizing the use of proven self-care management and other services by individuals with multiple chronic conditions [by the year 2020], the National Council on Aging determined that forming a tri-sector collaboration would be necessary.

This tri-sector collaboration includes representatives from government agencies, companies from the for-profit sector, and organizations from the non-profit sector (this includes philanthropic organizations). This tri-sector collaboration is a bold and unique approach to addressing a pressing societal issue. 

NCOA is the backbone organization (a function described in the Collective Impact model, developed by John Kania and Mark Kramer, as described in the Winter 2011 issue of the  Stanford Social Innovation Review) responsible for operating the collaborative.

Because the tri-sector collaboration fit the definition of a partnership/collaboration/network as described by TPF, TPF became a member of this Self-Care Management Alliance (“SMA”) with an interest in helping NCOA leverage the collaboration.

Prior to investing time and resources into the SMA, TPF evaluated the opportunity using its four criteria:  Leadership, Willingness, Capacity and Culture.

  • LeadershipIs there true leadership to make this a reality?  Not only is there leadership at NCOA driving this initiative, there are people committed from each participating organization.
  • WillingnessAre the partners willing to accept input and think differently and truly committed to the collaboration?  As the backbone organization, NCOA has demonstrated a willingness to involve as many ideas and organizations as is necessary to accomplish the objective.
  • CapacityDo the participating organizations have the capacity to implement?  NCOA identified specific individuals who are accountable for leading the project, and they are committed to building an infrastructure to support the breadth and depth of the projects.
  • CultureIs there a cultural fit with TPF?  NCOA has taken the time to learn and understand TPF (and TPF has reciprocated).  Both NCOA and TPF are willing to think and operate differently in order to accomplish the objective(s) and both want to ensure that communications, technology and financial thrivability permeate the entire project.

TPF’s role is likely unique for a funder. Recall that since TPF is topically agnostic, our interest is in leveraging the collaboration.

To this end, TPF has been working to create awareness of this project in the funding community (to help with financial thrivability), discussing the use of technology to facilitate discussion and interest, capture intellectual input and expand the reach of the SMA, and positioning a communications strategy for internal and external purposes. We are investing time and resources into this collaboration.

The Self-Care Management Alliance initiative being led by NCOA is large and complex. Creating a tri-sector collaborative was necessary in order to tap expertise, build consensus and make lasting change. TPF’s interest is in helping the collaborative leverage the tools at its disposal.


  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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