Riding the collaboration bandwagon

Back in 2001, when Thom Jeavons and I, via Growing Givers’ Hearts: Treating Fundraising as Ministry, urged leaders of faith-based nonprofits to collaborate with other ministry organizations, we didn’t have a lot of company on our bandwagon.  But what a difference a decade and a long-time downturn in the economy has made. These days,  just about everyone who is anyone in the nonprofit world is a champion of cooperation.

For an example of the burgeoning interest in networking across organizations, take a look at Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World – specifically Chapter 5. (There’s a wealth of good advice in the book, so don’t limit your reading to this chapter only.) Authors Leslie Crutchfield, John Kania, and Mark Kramer note that

It makes sense that many organizations working together toward a common cause can achieve more than a single person or nonprofit could alone. . . The most successful nonprofits work with and through their peers to achieve high levels of impact. They collaborate rather than compete with other nonprofits. This trait distinguishes them greatly from other, average-performing nonprofits. It’s what makes great nonprofits great.

And as Thom and I wrote, organizational openness to collaboration is one of six factors differentiating fundraising as ministry from your everyday, garden variety development program.

Fundraisers who truly believe that God is enough and that no one ministry is inherently more valuable than another are free to encourage right motives for giving and let donors follow their hearts and feed their souls. Where a holistic vision and a spirit of cooperation have displaced competition, fundraisers are free to share resources and wisdom with their colleagues and free to rejoice in the good gifts that come to other organizations.

Whenever two or three faith-based nonprofits band together, there’s new opportunity for God to be glorified and donors blessed. So get on board the collaboration bandwagon. It’s an interesting and rewarding ride.

What's your take on this topic?

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