In the nonprofit and philanthropic worlds, there is much talk about collaborations and partnerships. It seems that most everyone wants to be “in one” and yet, everyone defines these words differently!
So what are “collaborations” or “partnerships”? For The Patterson Foundation’s purposes, collaborations and partnerships (we also use the term “networks”), as I described in a previous blog, is the situation when two or more unrelated organizations agree to jointly approach an opportunity and are prepared to evolve their “ways of doing business” in order to accomplish the objective. There is a greater social good being created, and this can only be accomplished by multiple organizations working together.
Please allow me to give you some real-life TPF examples of networks (aka collaborations) we are supporting:
1) Health Safety Net
Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Sarasota County Health Department and the Senior Friendship Center treat the majority of the uninsured and underinsured in Sarasota County. With an increasing number of citizens without insurance or underinsured, these three organizations realized that they had the opportunity to complement each other’s strengths to create the operating leverage necessary to develop a system of care.
To begin, the three CEOs began meeting twice a month for six months to develop a system-of-care approach. The discussions were from the perspective of what is best for Sarasota County residents, not what is best for my institution.
From this initial effort, the group realized they needed some assistance to take this network to the next level. Through relationships, TPF learned of the need to help this “network” go to the next level. By expanding the partnership to include TPF, the three other entities have been able to access TPFs financial and intellectual resources (e.g. strategic communication, project management, etc.). Likewise, TPF has been able to participate in a collaboration that is making transformative change for the betterment of society.
2) New Media Journalism
Journalism is experiencing rapid change, and the future is unknown. What is known is that there is a passion for community news and how it is delivered. The Journalism Accelerator (“JA”) is The Patterson Foundation’s effort to leverage a network of independent publishers to help them connect, communicate and learn.
This “network” was incubated by the Reynolds Journalism Institute using the Journalism That Matters – Pacific Northwest community as the test group. TPF has used its financial and subject matter expertise to position the JA for success beyond TPF’s involvement.
3) National Council on Aging – Self Care Management Alliance
NCOA has been asked to lead a national effort to educate and promote self-care management for those people with multiple chronic conditions. To accomplish this, NCOA has created a tri-sector collaborative among the federal government, nonprofit organizations and for-profit entities. Within this collaborative, NCOA will create multiple “networks” consisting of many organizations focusing on addressing one of the many issues related to this topic. TPF is working with NCOA to identify how we can best support this network with our resources and expertise.
It is important to note that TPF is subject agnostic. Our work isn’t in or about a specific field. We see ourselves honoring the Patterson legacy by helping existing and future networks (collaborations or partnerships) achieve a level of “good” that can only be achieved by focusing on the dynamics and workings of the network itself.