The Patterson Foundation (TPF) was privileged to have The Lodestar Foundation’s President Lois Savage, pictured in 2010 next to Supreme Court Justice (and mentor) Sandra Day O’Connor, in town last week.
No, O’Connor wasn’t with her—but not being in tow with a Supreme Court Justice did not diminish Savage’s impact on TPF and 45 community leaders who had the opportunity to learn about some of Lodestar’s work in collaboration and to be part of the conversation with her.
Lois shared Lodestar’s many insights, and we were blessed by her visit and willingness to engage in a conversation about collaboration. I’m going to use this space to open the dialogue with blog readers on the wisdom Lodestar has gained over a 12 year period. (By the way—Lois told us that many foundations have funds set aside for nonprofit mergers, but Lodestar—and now TPF’s Collaborative Restructuring Initiative— are the only foundations that have a strategic intent for nonprofit partnerships.)
CHECK OUT OUR INTERVIEW WITH LOIS: The Patterson Foundation on YouTube
Collaboration takes time. Years and in one case, a decade. When I first heard these words flowing from Lois’s mouth, I thought ‘Wow! Why does this take so long? Why don’t folks see the benefits and work toward them?…This is going to try the patience of the entire community.”
The reality is that Rome wasn’t built in a day and people resist change. So, we’ll start with the basics: trust building. Lois cited an example in Lodestar’s hometown of Phoenix. Twelve years ago, in an effort increase effectiveness, reduce duplication and move the needle on impact, Lodestar convened the organizations who served the homeless population. When the myriad of agencies learned of Lodestar’s intentions, they ran from the table! But, three agencies kept talking and those talks, eventually, led to the Lodestar Day Resource Center in Phoenix, a comprehensive campus to serve the homeless as a whole person.
As Lois talked about this example, many shook their heads. ‘Yes’ to acknowledge a successful model for homelessness; and, ‘no’ in disbelief that it took so long.
We know that relationship-building takes time, especially when the stakes are high. Trust is essential. Wikipedia defines trust as reliance on another person or entity. Whether in business or your personal life, we all know of a few examples of partnerships that quickly form and just as quickly dissolve.
Was trust an issue? Was enough time invested in the process? Where all the issues understood? I would very much appreciate your thoughts. Please leave a comment below.