Last week, I shared The Patterson Foundation’s early work with eight local animal welfare organizations. While thinking about what I was going to say this week, I reflected on the journey to date. How did the animal groups decide that they needed a facilitator? What is TPF’s motivation for providing one?
Let’s take the second question first. TPF doesn’t pretend to know what’s best for organizations that want to explore working collaboratively. Our motivation is simply for nonprofit excellence through new realities. What’s a new reality? It’s the result of organizations engaging in innovative collaboration, sharing the value of what they learn by working together to achieve a synergy that benefits all involved and the wider community.
TPF executes this pursuit of excellence by providing a space/place and a person who doesn’t have a dog in the fight (literally and figuratively!) Our hope is that groups will take the challenge to work smarter/better. More often than not, this turns out to be true. By providing a third party facilitator, the groups find their own way. An important distinction on the role of the facilitator: a consultant will provide reports and recommendations. A facilitator will listen, guide, suggest, help air uncomfortable topics and encourage.
What brought the groups to TPF? Erosion. No, not the kind at the beach, but erosion of face-time and trust. As I’ve learned, a volunteer convened the groups periodically, but when he retired two years ago, and a leadership change occurred –resulting in the loss of important history — the erosion process began. The groups have shared that TPF’s facilitation has been invaluable for helping them get re-focused on collective impact.
Initially, I was going to write about the work-in-progress, but thought the motivations would be more interesting. Watch for the work in progress next week.
Around town, about a half-dozen nonprofits have shared with me their view of TPF’s motive — to push merger or somehow get them to do something they don’t want to do. Ask any of the animal groups if they’ve felt any pressure from TPF for a specific outcome. And then please post the response at the end of this blog!