Giving Compass' Take:

• The author offers nine considerations that nonprofits should think about when they enter into collaborative partnerships with other organizations. 

• Why did nonprofit organizations not utilize collaboration until recently? Why is there so much competition for funds when that effort could be spent on creating more impactful partnerships?  

• Read about other ways that organizations can (and should) effectively collaborate. 

If collaboration is so helpful, why is it not the norm among nonprofits? Historically, nonprofits have used collaboration to keep sinking organizations afloat. Organizations yield greater efficiencies through consolidated administrative functions or more rare structural alignments, such as mergers.

Here are nine important considerations for nonprofits looking to maximize social impact through collaboration:

  1. uild trust. Nonprofits can demonstrate trustworthiness through good governance, solid financial management and reporting, and communicating truthfully and transparently.
  2. Have a vision. It’s important to know what you expect will happen to your organization over an established period of time.
  3. Seek to assure the success of your collaborators. Parties must understand that for the project to succeed, it must fulfill each participant. Build in regular intervals for discussions about whether the relationship satisfies all parties, and whether everyone is able and willing to continue the commitment.
  4. Take stock. Assess organizational assets, as well as weaknesses worth strengthening into assets
  5. Start small. Short-term relationships that do not require significant outlays of time or money require less process-slowing paperwork, and allow organizations to organically build confidence in their ability to collaborate and in their willingness to trust.
  6. Fail fast, and build rigorous feedback loops. Set specific timetables and identify clear roles and responsibilities of staff.
  7. Take a portfolio approach. A nonprofit’s objective should be to establish a number of collaborations that have the potential to generate new value.
  8. Consider non-traditional partners. Collaborations with corporations, startups, social networks, and charities of all sizes, inside and outside of your issue area, may uncover new value generation that you might never have considered.
  9. Keep your donors apprised of your collaborations. These projects may generate new fundraising opportunities. Some funders could be interested in supporting the work of charities engaged in collaborations.

Read the full article about nonprofit collaboration by Art Taylor at Stanford Social Innovation Review