Giving Compass’ Take:
• The Intersector Project convened six focus groups to understand public views on cross-sector collaboration, which can inform practitioners engaged in collective impact work.
• How can this research also inform how donors view cross-sector collaboration?
In 2015, a group of business, philanthropic, education, and government leaders decided to revitalize a cross-sector effort to create a world-class talent development system in Summit County, Ohio. After working for more than a year to align diverse interests, in 2016 they were ready to announce their ambitious, shared goals. The leaders faced a simple but vexing issue: What to call the entity created to coordinate their collective effort?
“We couldn’t come up with just a few words to capture the unusual roles [each group] played in coordinating cross-sector collaboration, so we made up a word.”
Communicating about government-business-nonprofit collaboration is challenging. Yet practitioners must continually communicate the nature and value of their work to funders, potential partners, internal organizational stakeholders (senior managers or governing boards), and external organizational stakeholders (customers, voters, or donors).
Because communicating the work is critical and difficult, The Intersector Project engaged Hart Research to convene six focus groups exploring the public’s views toward cross-sector collaboration.
The groups, conducted in New York, Chicago, and Raleigh, North Carolina, comprised individuals from across the political spectrum and with various sector experiences. Our recent report captures insights from these groups, which practitioners can use to inform their communications efforts.
- Emphasize the added ideas, energy, and resources that cross-sector collaboration can bring to addressing a problem.
- Communicate how cross-sector collaboration differs from the status quo and previous attempts to address the problem, highlighting the conditions that increase chances for success.
- Draw on the public’s perceptions of the weaknesses of your sector and strengths of other sectors to make the case for cross-sector collaboration. Emphasize how each partner is assuming responsibilities that reflect its sector’s strengths.
- Thoughtfully consider the language you use to describe the partnership.
- When communicating stories of successful collaboration, include elements that give your audience a clear understanding of what cross-sector collaboration is and can achieve.
One of the most interesting findings from these focus groups was that people believe both that government is the root of most modern problems and that it is government’s responsibility to solve them. While the public may express a desire for better government, many citizens are actually seeking better governance—a better process for solving public problems. Governance today requires more than just government. Yet our focus groups showed that cross-sector collaboration is not yet top of mind for most people and has only passive support.
Read the source article about cross-sector collaboration by Neil Britto at Stanford Social Innovation Review.
Since you are interested in Collective Impact, have you read these selections from Giving Compass related to impact giving and Collective Impact?
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