Our collaborative model in philanthropy

Our collaborative model in philanthropy

Posted on August 13, 2015 by Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation

Since sharing its vision in 2010, The Patterson Foundation has used its flexibility, opportunity and responsibility to do what others can't, won't or aren't. This includes a multilayered approach to philanthropy -- one without grant cycles and one that enables the foundation to choose with whom it works to make an impact. An example of this is what began as the foundation's Collaborative Restructuring Initiative in 2010. The objective was to assist organizations interested in developing a better business structure for longterm thrivability. This approach included a continuum from back-office collaboration to exploring mergers. The initiative morphed into Collaborative Partnering (folks thought the latter was more about the scary merger word). Collaborative Partnering is about organizations coming together -- to work on what they'd like -- while The Patterson Foundation provides independent facilitation. 

Rather than a focus on any one organization, The Patterson Foundation is available to any multiple organizations that want to explore working effectively together. How that exploration goes depends on the leadership, willingness, readiness, capacity and culture of the group (let's not forget trust!). The work of The Patterson Foundation has evolved beyond Collaborative Partnering as a stand-alone initiative. Everything TPF does involves multiple organizations -- for example the Recoding Organizational DNA initiative may have been focused on homelessness in our community, but the model is one that could be transferred from issue to issue. Leadership, willingness, readiness, capacity and culture is used to guide us as we work with all collaborations, such as the Clawback Recovery Challenge organizations, the Sarasota County Health Safety Net System of Care, the national Campaign for Grade Level Reading and the community-wide Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. Through it all, we have learned that people and organizations have rhythms, and The Patterson Foundation has the flexibility to be ready as they are. The evaluation of leadership, willingness, readiness, capacity and culture has been invaluable.


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


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