The dog days of summer are approaching its end, and despite the hiatus from my blog, these past months have been anything but lazy! Summer, revered as a time for reflection and recharge, a common theme shared by my foundation clients is to sharpen and implement a collaborative mindset in their grantmaking.
Collaborate – easy to say, not so simple to execute. So why venture into the complex woods of collaboration?
Whether the funder’s intent is to leverage grant investments, encourage a larger community to think big and engage in solution-building, or truly practice what it preaches to nonprofits about coordinating and teaming efforts, collaboration is essential as most social issues require far more resources than any one funder (or grantee) can provide.
Over the last decade, I have had the privilege in designing, contributing and leading multiple collaborative initiatives – public-private partnerships, networks, coalitions, strategic alliances and collective impact efforts. As CivicAIM strides into the fall/winter season of supporting its client base to strengthen and optimize its collaborative muscles, below are critical elements we exercise in our work and share with you to ensure that your collaborative efforts outlive and outsize their intended impact:
- Coalescing around a Shared Vision – The creation of something “new” is the force that drives into and though a collaborative effort. A shared vision incorporates the perspectives of many, thereby enlarging the circle of influence and sustained engagement in support of that vision. For an in-depth review of funders promoting collaboration, take time to review and reflect on the genius of Grantmakers for Effective Organization’s recent publication, Building Collaboration From the Inside Out
- Embracing a Culture of Trust – The crux of effective collaborations are strong relationships (and planning!). A virtual nod to Stephen Covey who stated, “Relationship building moves at the speed of trust.” Additional attributes that point to trust in your partners include flexibility and the willingness to sometimes give up control and truly believe in the strength and leadership of the collective. For a research-based perspective of core organizational elements, take time to examine Collaboration: What Makes It Work, 2nd
- Careful, Purposeful Planning – Clarifying the collaboration’s “north star”, is integral as direct implications on it will source decisions that flow from that purpose. A dogeared guide in CivicAIM’s resource library for designing events that promote collaborative initiatives is Monitor Institute’s Gather: The Art & Science of Effective Convenings as it offers a set of design principles, key questions, and considerations to successfully harness the intelligence of the collaborative.
CivicAIM has been facilitating more and more collaborative efforts and is open to exploring ways to support your initiatives. As in the practice of collaboration and turning the proverbial microphone to you, “What are your experiences with collaboration? What recommendations, ideas and knowledge sources do you promote to advance grantmaker practices related to collaboration?”