Is anybody exploring collaborative partnerships?

Posted on March 16, 2011 by Pam Truitt

The Southwest Florida Chapter of the Association of Fund Raising Professionals (AFP) invited me to speak at the January 2011 monthly luncheon. A national organization, I hope all AFP Chapters are as enthusiastic and engaged as ours is around philanthropic ethics and efficiencies. My topic —Collaborative Restructuring—Daisies or Oaks? filled the room!  (Or did they come because they were hoping to hear that The Patterson Foundation had changed from a non-grant making to a grant making foundation??!!)

I used the visual above to launch their ‘thinking’.  The photo—a field of daisies with a couple of oak trees is a pretty picture. Now, imagine if each daisy represented a nonprofit and the oak trees represented two or more nonprofits that created strong partnerships for effectiveness and growth.

Within the four county area of Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties, there are about 2,900 nonprofits.  Sarasota (at 1,537) and Manatee (at 924) make up the lion’s share. With this photo on the big screen, I posed several questions:

How well does the field hold-up against the winds of change?

Would planting more daisies make the field stronger?

Would transforming some of the daisies into oak trees whose size and strength create a protective canopy be a wise strategy?

I concluded this part of my presentation by stating that the transformation process (daisies to oaks) is the goal of the Collaborative Restructuring Initiative.

Now that I had the room humming with thoughts, I asked the audience a few questions and encouraged table talk.  I know you don’t have all day to read this blog, so I’ll provide food for thought. There are a whole lot of awesome collaborations among Sarasota nonprofits in the program world and it was obvious that folks are sure proud of the volume of programmatic collaboration—as they should be.

Strengthening relationships at the program level could be the first step to stronger relationships and trust building — and these actions could lead to conversations about what ‘could be’ in terms of back office alliances or other structural changes.

Do you agree?

Wikipedia has a great definition of partnership:  Partnerships are also frequent regardless of and among sectors. Non-profit organizations, for example, may partner together to increase the likelihood of each achieving their mission.

What do you think?  Are partnerships appropriate tools for mission impact?

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


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