What does nonprofit collaboration look like?

Posted on August 24, 2011 by Pam Truitt

Q:  What is 1,537?

A:  The number of nonprofits registered (2009) in Sarasota County, including education and religious institutions.

The Sertoma Club of Venice, a leading nonprofit civic organization and the second largest chapter in the U.S., recently asked The Patterson Foundation to make a presentation to the club's members. I was honored to speak on behalf of TPF.

When the 1,537 slide popped-up on the screen, I heard a few low whistles from the audience and the room went silent.

Having mentioned the ‘1,537’ figure in other presentations and a previous blog post, I usually get the response: "That's too many!"

Well, maybe and maybe not.

I don’t know the answer, but my mind continues to ponder….what is known about the 1,537 nonprofits?

  • How many are acting as a team for collective impact?  For example, are there collaboratives that are focused on issues like childhood obesity?  Environmental awareness?  Family literacy?  Senior health?  Historic Preservation?  Arts?
  • As the number of nonprofits increases so does the competition for resources:  donors, funders, board members. What role does competition play in terms of a barrier to building collaborative relationships?
  • Is 1,537 representative of an effective and efficient nonprofit sector?
  • Is the correct business model in place that allows nonprofits to propel respective missions?

At the current time, there are no answers to my questions.

Is 1,537 the right number to serve the 380,000 (plus or minus) folks who live here plus seasonal residents and visitors?

What do you think?


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


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