Although it isn’t an innovative idea, although it has been happening forever, collaboration is one thing that will make the nonprofit sector better!
The nonprofit sector, just like the public and private sectors, has its fair share of problems. The sector has been around forever, but more than ever before I see people organizing into professional organizations. I don’t know the exact statistics, but I am sure that a new nonprofit is being organized every day. The sector is being flooded by organizations that want to do good in the community. Unlike other sectors many people don’t see the risk in starting a new nonprofit. They see the good they want to do and believe the only way to do this is to start their own nonprofit.
I know I have had the thought before, “No one is doing this for the community, why don’t I start my own organization to do this.” Although after some research I am sure to find another organization that is doing the same thing.
One thing that will help the nonprofit sector is collaboration. Collaboration takes some social entrepreneurship by organizations already formed, but also extensive research by those that have a passion for serving a disparity in the community. Collaboration can only help the sector. If you weigh the reasons, it seems obvious.
A great example: Two organizations are serving homeless in Grand Rapids. Both organizations are located on the same street, both organizations serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as many other services to the homeless community in their area. Both organizations receive donations and grant funding. Imagine if both of these organizations collaborated on their food serving. This means paying less overhead costs for lighting and heating two separate buildings, paying two separate custodians for cleaning, benefits for two program directors. The funds saved through cutting these costs could go towards serving more individuals and possibly providing them with more needed services.
The idea of collaboration takes a lot of innovation, nonprofit sector professionals should be thinking more entrepreneurial about the programs they run, how they can better those programs through collaboration with other organizations providing the same services.
Some may believe competition is good for the sector, but as we can see in education, competition is not always the best way to get organizations to provide better services. In the nonprofit sector it is important to serve each population in the best way for that population. Competition sets standards that may not be realistic for every population.
Collaboration is one way to do this. What is better than sitting in a room with individuals that share your same passions. To sit in a room sharing ideas with individuals that know the population you’re serving. What is better than thinking innovatively about serving populations in your community better.
Collaboration may not be the answer, and it may seem obvious, but is a step that many organizations need to take. Collaboration and social entrepreneurship push individuals to think out of the box, while continuing to serve those individuals they have always been passionate about serving. Collaboration is one way to make the nonprofit sector better.