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Collaboration, Strategic Partnerships, Collective Impact

(2014) – Collaboration, Strategic Partnerships, Collective Impact…One funder I know  jokingly says that she ‘fines’ people who use the latter term in her presence. Why? This jargon is overused, misused, and often sometimes works better in theory than in practice.

Too often nonprofits seek partnerships with other mission- like organizations, where different philosophies–and competition for donors–mire progress.   But we are seeing great success with organizations trying a different strategy: partners offering totally different services, but with an aligned philosophy. And to take it a step further, partners that are eager and willing to share not just ideas, but donors and resources.

A brilliant example is two former MW&A clients, Project Hope Alliance and Art & Creativity for Healing.   These two nonprofits serve very different missions.   Project Hope Alliance, is dedicated to improving the lives of homeless children living in Orange County motels. Art & Creativity for Healing is all about using paint, canvas and imagination to heal emotional trauma in children and adults.

Working on projects with Art & Creativity for Healing instructors, the children served by Project Hope Alliance have revealed some specific emotional health needs. Now that those needs are identified, appropriate services can be delivered.

More evidence: follow the money. These two organizations jointly applied for and won grants for after school programming. Now they’re heading into a second cycle. Funders like the synergy. Another bonus: some of the expertise has migrated across the borders, as Project Hope Alliance’s child case-worker is now a trained Art for Creativity and Healing facilitator.

Not-so-obvious partnerships are successful because the complementary missions extend, rather than duplicate. The more is more, there is no redundancy, and clients benefit.  It’s found synergy, and, we are seeing daily that it works.