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More and more, foundations are engaging in collaboration as a way to leverage their impact as they work to address large, complex problems. From learning with peers to identifying new funding partners to developing large-scale, multi-year pooled funding initiatives, many grantmakers believe that by working together they can be more ef cient and effective.
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Yet, according to research conducted by the Monitor Institute and the Foundation Center, many of these same foundations are struggling with challenges in working together. Among potential obstacles are the time needed to manage the collaborative process and develop protocols for sharing information and taking joint action, as well as dif culties in nding new funding partners. These challenges can ultimately prevent collaborations from moving forward.
Fortunately, a range of new technologies—such as social networking sites, le- sharing tools, crowdsourcing systems, wikis, and almost too many others to name— are making it easier than ever before to communicate and connect. These new tools can make collaborations easier by reducing inef ciencies and enabling new methods of working together that were dif cult to imagine just a few years ago.
Project management tools are streamlining the process of aligned action. Communications technologies are making it easier than ever to build relationships and share ideas across organizations and geographies. Matching systems are helping donors and foundations connect more ef ciently with organizations and projects. Data visualization tools are helping funders see the bigger picture and make collective, informed decisions.
With so many tools to choose from, it’s hard to know how to start. But it is important for foundations to begin with the collaborative needs of the group in mind, not with the tools themselves. The Monitor Institute and the Foundation Center have identi ed three core types of collaborative needs that can be facilitated by technology:
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