Building Capacity in Nonprofit Collaboration By Training Independent Facilitators

Posted on June 08, 2011 by Pam Truitt

The Patterson Foundation (TPF) helps facilitate conversations for nonprofits and civic organizations around the creation of alliances, collaborations, partnerships, networks and mergers.

Lofty goal, right?  Well, yes.

Here's a glimpse into what we're doing:

Early on, we determined that capacity building in the field is essential. In May, The Patterson Foundation hosted Phase 1 La Piana Consulting training for 22 well qualified nonprofit consultants throughout Florida. Through our partnership with La Piana, we made modifications to enhance the program.

What did the consultants learn?  I’ll skip over the technical to talk about case studies.   Consultants need to know how to react in situations that invariably come up during partnership negotiations, and La Piana presented a few thought-provoking case studies. The conversation among consultants—as they talked through the scenarios and ramifications— was fascinating! In each case study, there are only a few wrong answers and many right. The class of 22 got ‘many right’!

(Pictured above is the group from Jacksonville, along with Bob Harrington, Director of Strategic Restructuring, La Piana Consulting, who conducted the training. Left to Right: Jim Dixon, Jana Ertracher, Julia Burns, Bob Harrington, Leah Donelan, Jim Penrod and Bob Hawkins.)

Here’s one of the case studies. What would be your recommendations?

Two organizations are in negotiations of a potential merger. Organization A has a vacancy in the CEO position. Organization B has a long-term CEO in place.  During the discussions--and in side comments-- you have heard from representatives of Organization A, that they do not have confidence in the leadership of the CEO of Organization B to lead a merged organization. The Negotiations Committee asks you for suggestions on the CEO leadership determination process.


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


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