Competition in the nonprofit world trumps solutions

Posted on March 21, 2012 by Pam Truitt

Don’t get me wrong. I think competition and its cousin, competitive advantage, are good things when they are rightly understood and used.

So, if I think competition is good, why does this blog title suggest otherwise?

Over the past three weeks, The Patterson Foundation held a series of community meetings to share information about its 20 initiatives (all 20 of them!) and the partners it has chosen to carry out the work.At one of the meetings, a nice man introduced himself and then began to tell me a story.

He said a foundation approached his organization and put a substantial amount of funding on the table with one major condition—that his organization ‘collaborate’ with three other organizations in the same space and located in the same community. Excited by the opportunity to have better outcomes, he approached each of the other organizations to discuss the opportunities for collaboration—including serving more clients with better outcomes.

What happened next caught the man completely off-guard.  The ‘other’ organizations (all three of them) listened during the meetings then turned around and individually called the funder to request that all of the funding be given to them!

And what was the funder’s reaction? The money is still sitting there; the community need unmet; and the competition for funding alive and well.


Please leave us a comment and share examples of nonprofit competition that got in the way of solutions. We'll share some of the top examples on Facebook!

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


Leave a comment

You are commenting as guest.