In a world of increasing uncertainty collaboration is more and more essential. Exploring the theme presents opportunity to understand both the potential and challenges for effective collaboration on philanthropy initiatives. From straightforward information sharing to pooling of funding, collaboration can span a wide breadth of activity.

Addressing an online forum, Katie Boswell, Associate Director at NPC and Marcel Lauziere, CEO of the Lawson Foundation, explored the theme with Philanthropy Ireland members and colleagues. Drawing on her recent research and analysis of collaborative funding initiatives, Katie noted the ambition for systems change and utilisation of a place-based approach to impact on key issues.

While many of the reasons for collaboration are readily understood — achieving greater impact, maximising resource utilisation, avoiding duplication — there are undoubtedly challenges involved. Setting aside the challenge of demand on time and resources, understanding and maintaining focus on individual impact can be difficult in a collaboration of funders.

Focusing on contribution rather than attribution was suggested to encourage funders to rethink how the issue of impact can be addressed in a collaborative process. A shared vision is a critical prerequisite for this to work well.

Drawing on years of experience in the philanthropy sector in addition to the current work of the Lawson Foundation, Marcel suggested the need for a three-pronged approach for effective philanthropic collaboration: a strategy of collaboration with other funders, with grantees and with government. He presented really interesting examples of all three approaches in the work of the Lawson Foundation.

While acknowledging that collaboration is not always easy, or indeed necessary in every situation, the key driver is to increase impact. When done well it can challenge us to look at things differently and to work differently. Unless we do things differently there will be no change. That is the power of collaboration.

Read the full article about collaborative philanthropy from Philanthropy Ireland at Medium.