Giving Compass' Take:
- This article explains the impact that dedicated capacity can have within community collaboratives. It provides guidance and examples of how to build a sustainable and successful collaborative.
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One of the defining characteristics of community collaboratives that really get things done is dedicated capacity. In conversations with leaders of “needle-moving” collaboratives, we have learned that this capacity – and the structure it supports – is often what differentiates the most effective efforts from other forms of collaboration. The purpose of this guide is to provide guidance and examples of how to structure and staff your collaborative.
In this guide, we address several key aspects of how to organize a collaborative that we believe lead to success:
Structure or organization of the collaborative: Structure encompasses how collaboratives are organized to address their goals. How they come together is important. Typically, a lead convener, which is an organization or individual, pulls the collaborative together and organizes it. This entity may also be known as the “anchor organization.” Its role is central in every way.
Dedicated capacity: Dedicated capacity translates into staff that supports the day-to-day work of the collaborative and helps move the agenda forward. The extent of this capacity ranges from two people to more than seven in the collaboratives researched for this project.
Culture of the collaborative: Culture is the secret sauce of every successful community collaborative—it is difficult to define, difficult to develop, and yet one of the most powerful enablers of high impact. No two cultures are alike, but collaboratives that do move the needle on social issues display at least three similar traits. They revolve around what might be categorized as trust, modesty, and maturity.
One hallmark of a mature collaborative is that partners take a coordinated approach to funding. With money and jobs potentially at stake, this is a true test of trust. Participating organizations may write a joint application, the group might jointly agree on which organization should apply for the funding, or the lead convener may apply for funding with the intent of subcontracting portions of the funding to partner organizations.