Collaborate to meet your vision for a better community.
I like to talk/blog about collaboration, and believe it’s one thing that would help the nonprofit sector grow and fix some of the problems the sector has with sustainability. Collaboration as Hildy Gottleib, author of the blog Creating the Future! said during our Governing Nonprofits for Success Conference, “you have to partner to reach the vision of the community you want.” She went on to talk about what the vision of all nonprofits, or community benefit organizations as she calls them, should be. She says, all nonprofits should have a vision that starts with “Our vision is a community that…”
Essentially, all community benefit organizations, (I like her idea of using these terms instead of nonprofit) are vying for a better community around the area they are working in. Homelessness organizations envision a community without homeless; food banks envision a community without hunger; after school programs envision a community with respectful, achieving youth.
As Hildy sees it, it is important for the boards, community leaders, of all organizations to meet with those of similar organizations to collaborate in creating a better community in their area of focus. I know it’s easier said than done, but Hildy shared examples of programs that have done this, and I am sure if you take a conscience look around your community you could find organizations doing the same.
Collaboration does not come easy, and many times the egos of organizations get in the way of truly collaborating to meet their vision. The same goes for individuals who desire to start their own nonprofits. Many passionate individuals don’t see the harm they could cause by not partnering with already established organizations to help them sustain or grow similar programs. I think education is the key to building a better understanding for what a strong community benefit sector should look like, it could be the subject of many posts, but I will leave you now with just the statement.
It is important for all nonprofit professionals to share the story of the sector with those that may not be as familiar. It is up to us working in the sector to create the knowledge needed to keep the sector strong.
I have been challenging myself to share what a nonprofit really does with individuals who don’t understand what my job is, and I challenge you to do the same.