What do foundations want to know about collaboration?

Posted on November 08, 2011 by Pam Truitt

By the time this blog is posted, I’ll be honing my presentation for the Southeastern Council of Foundations (SECF) Annual Meeting (Nov. 9-11, 2011).

Among the many benefits of being among more than 650 conference registrants is that I’ll be able to spend quality time with several colleagues who share a keen interest in the collaborative restructuring ‘space’. Learning from each other and sharing knowledge and lessons learned is a key component of our session -  Creating New Paradigms:  5+ Foundations Collaborate.

Our team—Diana Bucco, The Forbes Funds; Lois Savage, The Lodestar Foundation, Lita Pardi, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Dawn Martz, the Foellinger Foundation, and David Snider, Foundation for the Carolinas—is a pretty new in terms of working together.  (Unfortunately, David is unable to join us in person at the conference, but will be with us in spirit.)

For me, the thrill of being chosen for the conference session - while honored and grateful - quickly wore off when our team began discussing the nuts and bolts of the presentation.

What would folks find so interesting about collaborating by learning and sharing?

Isn’t it what we do 24/7?  To me, it’s as second nature as my morning routine: Get up, wash my face, and brush my teeth and hair, put on a t-shirt, shorts and my Asics. This invigorating activity is followed by firing up the coffee pot and walking outside to get the paper. Anybody excited yet?

The excitement is who I’ve met and what I’ve learned by making the effort.  Yes, collaboration takes effort. Our foundations are all very different. We are different sizes, have different areas of focus and different geographies. But we share common interests—which are very similar, but not exactly the same. This requires effort.

Back to the session planning…

The team was surprised when we learned that more than 100 had registered for our session.  Holy tamoley! While we pondered, we began asking ourselves questions—why did so many sign up for this session and what do they want to know? We didn’t want to second-guess, so we created a short survey with multiple choice answers.  About one-third of the registrants responded—a pretty good representation. And here’s what they told us:

Why are you coming to this session?

I am interested in developing relationships with other foundations - 76%

I want to learn more about nonprofit partnerships - 65%

Not sure - 3%

What do you want to take away from this session?

How the foundations found common interest - 52%

How the foundations share what they learn - 48%

What are the benefits of the foundation collaboration - 52%

Not sure - 6%

Wow! It’s pretty clear from the survey that foundations are in the mood for collaboration.  And our conference team is going to deliver. If you are among those registered, thank you.

We’ll see you Thursday!

If you had received this survey, how would you answer the questions?

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