Best practices for building non-profit partnerships and collaborations


Last week I decided to attend a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Binghamton located in Binghamton, NY. The Club was celebrating construction of their Education Center (underwritten by donors like the Decker Foundation) and the future home of the Pejo Theater (a performing arts space underwritten by donors like board volunteer Dr. Samuel Pejo). So, I thought I’d share a few pictures as well as a number of best practices as it relates to creating collaborative partnerships.

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In the picture above, you see clients, staff, board volunteers and donors officially cutting the ribbon for the new programming space.

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In the picture above, you see executive director Marybeth Smith amplifying the stewardship messages from the event to the community via news media.

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In the picture above, you see UnitedHealthcare distributing insurance information to the community outside of the Boys & Girls Club. Stated another way, you see the organization sharing its big day and the stage with another company for the benefit of families and neighbors.

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In the picture above, you see neighbors lining up for food from a local food bank affiliated with Feeding America. As with the previous picture, the Boys & Girls Club is sharing its big day with other non-profit organizations for the benefit of families and neighbors.


As I walked into the clubhouse and throughout the entire ribbon cutting ceremony, everywhere I turned I saw collaboration and partnership in motion. Having once worked on the front line of a Boys & Girls Club, I walked away from my time with this Club marveling at all the hard work they obviously put into building partnerships.

Collaboration is something that donors LOVE to see because:

  • they see it as proof that community support is being leveraged
  • it feels like “economies of scale” are being achieved
  • it is perhaps proof that services aren’t being duplicated and costs (at least efforts) are being shared

Of course, collaboration and partnership sounds easy, but in reality it never is. So, I thought I’d share a few best practices and links to resources to those of you wanting to replicate the successes you see in the pictures I’ve posted. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Sit down with potential partners, talk through the issues and put the plan in writing
  • Formalize and codify your collaboration in a written “memorandum of understanding” that spells out who has agreed to do what
  • Maintain routine communication with each other after the planning phase
  • Involve as many stakeholders in the dialog before, during and after the collaboration/partnership (e.g. volunteers, board members, staff, clients, donors, etc)
  • Build into your partnership routine evaluation/assessment opportunities and commit to a continuous cycle of learning and self-improvement
  • Celebrate your successes — TOGETHER

Interested in reading much more about how to design and implement productive collaborative partnerships? Here are a few resources I found online and think are awesome:

Does your non-profit organization do a good job with identifying, framing, implementing and evaluating partnerships and collaborations with others (e.g. non-profits, for-profits, individuals, etc)? If so, what do they look like? What has worked for you and made these efforts successful in your opinion?

Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

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About DonorDreams

Erik got his start working in the non-profit field immediately upon graduation with his masters degree in 1994. His non-profit management and fundraising experience numbers nearly 20 years. His teachable point of view around resource development is influenced by the work of Penelope Burk and those professionals subscribing to a "donor centered" paradigm. Donors have dreams and it is our responsibility to be dream-makers because donors are not ATMs.

Posted on August 11, 2015, in nonprofit, philanthropy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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