Collaboration Prize Surprising Results

Posted on September 21, 2011 by Pam Truitt

I’ve devoted several blogs to the Lodestar Foundation’s Collaboration Prize, a virtual treasure trove of information.

Kudos to the Lodestar Foundation for initiating the prize and big thank you for housing the data in a user-friendly searchable database at the Foundation Center.  The beauty of the database is that it’s one-stop shopping in terms of looking for collaboration examples. The database contains pretty detailed information on 670 applications submitted for the first Collaboration Prize in 2009 and the second in 2011.

Recently, I attended a forum hosted by The Forbes Funds in Pittsburgh and was delighted to hear Cindy Bailie, Cleveland office of the Foundation Center, present an analysis of the 2011 Collaboration Prize submittals: 809 nominations were submitted, 412 qualified.

Since data is the great for debunking urban legends, assumptions and guesses, the analysis will be useful in conversations across the U.S. for at least a couple of years. To keep the data pure, applicants responded to the questions in this analysis. I’ll focus on two areas under Reasons to Collaborate.

The top five goals sought through collaboration:

1.  Expand, reach, range of services, and programs.

2.  Improve quality of services and programs.

3.  Address unmet or escalating community needs.

4.  Maximize financial resources.

5.  Service more and/or different audiences.

The top five circumstances prompting collaboration:

1.  Advance a shared goal.

2.  Respond to a community need.

3.  Initiated or mandated by funder(s).

4.  Competition for funding or clients.

5.  Respond to a funding opportunity.

And what is surprising about these results?

The surprise is what’s missing.  Many assumed that poor economic conditions would be the main driver of nonprofit collaborations. Not so. The top goal that nonprofits were seeking is based on expansion. The top circumstance that prompted the partnership was mission impact.

Are you surprised by these results?  What did you think the top reasons would be?

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


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