Collaboration…It May Not Be Easy, But It’s Oh-So-Worthwhile!

Collaboration…It May Not Be Easy, But It’s Oh-So-Worthwhile!

Posted on December 19, 2016 by Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation

To kick off the Southeastern Council of Foundations Annual Meeting session entitled, Collaboration from the Inside Out, moderator Grantmakers for Effective Organization’s Meghan Duffy asked her co-presenters to say something provocative or enticing about collaboration. Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Lesley Grady shared that “Co” and “Labor” are embedded in every collaboration, in that people must be committed working together.

I offered two thoughts:

  • Collaboration is the unnatural act between adults who didn’t want to do it in the first place. (Tongue in cheek, but the reality is that collaboration is tough but worthwhile work)
  • Collaboration is not vanilla, but rather toffee chip, caramel swirl with chocolate drizzle… as in each is distinct and complex!

Nuggets that can help collaborations be effective:

  • Assess alignment of Leadership, Willingness, Readiness, Capacity, and Culture before beginning and throughout the collaboration
  • Change happens at the speed of trust… allow relationships to develop
  • Discern the values of the collaborative and use them as the North Star
  • Don’t arrive with answers, take the time to learn
  • Involve executive director, board, staff, volunteers, donors
  • Engage people, business, nonprofits, government and media
  • Time is the non-renewable resource, so use it effectively
  • Be accountable, actionable and authentic
  • Align internal and external communications
  • Focus on assets and aspirations rather than deficits and problems
  • Have fun and do important work
  • Celebrate success along the journey
  • Focus on excellence rather than perfection

Nothing important can be accomplished in isolation…we are stronger together.

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


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