The Patterson Foundation's Role in Nonprofit Partnership Facilitation

Posted on January 18, 2012 by Pam Truitt

I’ve written a good number of blogs that focus on the role of facilitators and their important part in helping nonprofits explore opportunities for new realities. The most recent was how The Patterson Foundation and a group of 12 Florida-based consultants completed La Piana facilitation training and are now ready to step out.

If your reaction to the past writings was ho-hum, I hope this blog stirs your imagination.

When was the last time you tried to branch out and think about putting ‘something together’ outside of your space?  Feel daunted?  Overwhelmed?  Butterflies? Even if the concept to change is viewed as positive/needed/necessary, most folks resist change unless the grim reaper is knocking at the door. It takes one to know one and I’ve been guilty of this myself.

A good bit of the trepidation is likely attributed to visions of uncharted waters, risk-averse board members and/or suspicious staff. That thought sent chills from the keyboard through my fingers and into my body! Whoever is in the vision seat—it could be a board member, CEO, Funder—would want professional assistance to navigate what is sometimes perceived as an uncontrollable process.

In reality, organizations have complete control over the results because those are thoughtfully negotiated, with the help of a skilled facilitator, and in the case of a merger, voted on by the organization’s board. The role of the facilitator is to lay out the route, help moderate the rapids and guide organizations (and personalities) through the process.

Where do you find a good facilitator that understands the process?

The Patterson Foundation and the 12 La Piana-trained independent consultants are in a partnership to advance their skills. Four are local to our region and available to help nonprofits in Charlotte, Desoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties explore ‘what could be’.

More than 1,780 nonprofits are located in Sarasota alone—an increase of 250 in two years. More than 900 nonprofits are located in Manatee County. These numbers suggest that there must be opportunities to explore mission optimization and create new realities. After all, Nonprofits live to serve others, not themselves.

What are your thoughts—do you believe facilitators can help organizations form partnerships around mission optimization?


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


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