"The more extensive a man's knowledge of what has been done, the greater will be his power of knowing what to do." — Benjamin Disraeli, UK Prime Minister
I'm a fan of the quote above, and it perfectly describes why 23 representatives from a consulting firm, a private foundation, and six nonprofits came together over Zoom to share knowledge and learn from one another through The Patterson Foundation's (TPF) Advancing Mission Thrivability (AMT) initiative.
To learn more about the background of AMT, dig into my fellow Fellows' blog posts:
- John Ferguson shared why TPF and No Margin, No Mission collaborated on an initiative focused on aligning mission and economic-centric decision-making. He also discussed the unique labinars and webversations phase of AMT and shared which six organizations were chosen to participate in the follow-up 1:1 consulting and why.
- Hannah Saeger Karnei explained the consulting phase and illustrated what she learned from two very different nonprofits who sought to align mission and margin in various ways. She demonstrates that everyone involved learned a great deal about how the 1:1 consulting served a unique purpose for each organization and why it made a difference.
That leads us to the finale of AMT 1.0. As we neared the conclusion of the consulting sessions with the nonprofits, No Margin, No Mission founders Larry Clark and Mike Oxman shared that they wanted to gather all six participating organizations, staff, and board leaders for a knowledge sharing session. Knowledge sharing sessions are a regular part of TPF's and nonprofits' work with No Margin, No Mission.
Why? Because, as Mr. Disraeli says above, the more you know, the more you'll be able to do. Any organization can learn from the victories, lessons, challenges, mistakes, etc. of others. The importance of learning is also reflected in TPF's value that we strive to learn as we collaborate and share successes and challenges. As is commonly said, two heads are better than one. So when you put 23 together, who could predict the vital knowledge shared and the connections formed?
In AMT's knowledge sharing session, Florida Cultural Group, Our Y, Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, Manatee County Habitat for Humanity, Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity, and Punta Gorda Symphony didn't disappoint. Board and staff members shared openly about their experiences. They discussed surprises, communications, and their plan for beyond the pandemic. They described learnings from fundraising, events, communications, developing expertise, prioritizing offerings, and monetizing offerings in new ways. They shared challenges, successes, and lessons that others could learn from them.
What struck me was the honesty and openness to sharing wins and challenges. These organizations and their leaders could have kept these nuggets to themselves, afraid that another organization would take advantage of their goodwill and steal techniques to use.
But they didn't. And I think that strongly demonstrates the power of the nonprofit sector and everyone's strength when we gather to advance humanity. Maybe I'm idealistic about the prospect of coming together and sharing ideas and singing kumbaya (okay, the last one might be a stretch), but who's to say that we can't grow philanthropy and giving and volunteering when we come together to share ideas and knowledge openly?
So, I'd like to respectively amend Mr. Disraeli's quote to say, "The more extensive a community's knowledge of what has been done, the greater will be their power of knowing what to do." With that angle, the quote now reflects community collaboration, an essential ingredient to TPF's work and the idea that we are better when we share and collaborate.After spending two hours sharing knowledge with these six wonderful organizations, I have no doubt that they are better armed with knowing what to do and reaching out to others when they have questions. The Suncoast region is better off because of it.