Collaborate for Greater Impact

Collaboration allows grantmakers to leverage the contributions of multiple players to make more progress toward shared goals. For grantmakers, working collaboratively means deepening relationships with partners and putting a common vision ahead of individual organizations or agendas. Grantmakers can also effectively support grantee collaboration by funding infrastructure that enables these efforts to thrive, connecting people and groups working in common areas and emphasizing long-term learning and impact over short-term gains.

How do we determine the right role to play in collaboration?

Collaborations — groups of grantmakers, nonprofits and other stakeholders aligning around a shared vision and targeting resources and activities in support of that vision — require partners to play various roles to be successful. Once grantmakers make the decision to work together, the next step is to consider what role(s) we play in the collaboration. This piece outlines a variety of roles grantmakers can play in collaboratives and offers tips for identifying the right role(s) for each organization. Find the full answer here >

How can we prepare for collaboration?

In recent years there has been an increased call for more collaboration in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. The problems that we seek to address are large and complex, and a go-it-alone mentality will not result in meaningful impact. However, because collaboration is hard and messy, many grantmakers and nonprofits are uncertain about the best way to move forward. The first step is to look inward and ensure that we have the right elements in place to be good partners and collaborators. This piece discusses several steps that grantmakers can take to prepare for any type of collaboration. Find the full answer here >

What are different ways to collaborate?

In the nonprofit sector there are various forms of collaboration, ranging in formality, actors and purposes. Some of the most common types of collaboration include networks, coalitions, movements, strategic alliances, strategic co-funding, public private partnerships and collective impact initiatives. It can sometimes be difficult to differentiate among them and know which might be the best fit for certain situations. This piece defines these forms and offers guidance for grantmakers on when to use each, along with examples and considerations. Find the full answer here >

What mindset is needed to support collaboration?

Throughout history, social change has been possible only through the contributions and dedication of many people and organizations connected in tight and loose groups. Recognizing that operating within the confines of a single organization is often insufficient to create widespread, lasting change, grantmakers are adopting a different mindset that helps them see and do their work as part of larger, more diverse and powerful efforts. However, this mindset is different from how some foundations currently operate. It means valuing connectedness, shared ownership and openness. This piece introduces how we might shift from a traditional mindset to a more collaborative mindset, to think and act beyond the boundaries of our foundations to make progress on complex social problems. Find the full answer here >

What roles can grantmakers play in supporting networks?

Grantmakers of all kinds care about tangible progress on tough problems, but we also seek harder-to-measure results. Networks for social change can help on both of these fronts, building new capacity for making progress on complex problems and achieving significant measurable results. Tapping into network connections is becoming the norm for social change makers, whether we’re mapping influential relationships for an advocacy campaign, coordinating a protest to fight climate change or spreading an approach to community engagement. For funders, supporting and investing in networks is a prerequisite for remaining relevant in a world of fast moving information and ideas and tackling persistent, complex problems. This piece introduces the value of networks for making progress on complex problems, along with typical roles that funders play in networks, and it offers recommendations for investing in them most effectively. Find the full answer here >

How can grantmakers support movements?

Today, many grantmakers recognize the role of social movements in advancing opportunity, well-being and justice for all people. And more grantmakers are making a shift from solely supporting individual organizations and programs to supporting the multiple organizations and intersecting networks that make up movements. Supporting movements — as investors, brokers, connectors, learners and influencers — is a key way grantmakers can collaborate with others and facilitate grantee collaboration to tackle pressing social problems. Find the full answer here >

How can grantmakers facilitate connections and collaboration?

The urgency and complexity of the problems nonprofits and grantmakers are trying to solve demands that we come together to exchange knowledge and insights from our work and combine resources. Convenings are powerful vehicles for amassing shared knowledge, building trusting relationships and laying the groundwork for collective action. And, grantmakers are well positioned to provide the types of support to catalyze, develop and sustain these efforts. Many funders use the power of convening to benefit our grantees and communities in countless ways. But, even grantmakers who think they are convening well can usually improve some element of convening design, execution or its desired outcomes. This piece offers practical advice to help grantmakers get better at bringing stakeholders together. Find the full answer here >

How do we know if our network is effective?

Networks of nonprofits, funders and other partners have the potential to build new capacity for making progress on complex problems and achieving significant measurable results. However, understanding the influence of networks and their results can be a challenge. Like social change itself, networks are emergent and nonlinear. Yet as in most other areas of grantmaking, there is a growing interest in understanding the impact of networks through evaluation and learning. This piece explores key strategies for assessing network effectiveness. Find the full answer here >

What capacities do nonprofits need in order to collaborate?

Collective action is an effective way for nonprofits to increase their impact, but they often lack the key capacities that enable these types of partnerships to thrive. Nonprofits need time and space to explore and employ the power of collective action to advance their missions. They also need organizational slack, and board and staff leaders who are adept at building relationships and sharing power and responsibility. Grantmakers can play a vital role in creating the space for collaboration and supporting nonprofits as they work together to get better results. This piece offers insights on the core capacities nonprofits need to collaborate and how funders can help. Find the full answer here >

Who is working well together?

A searchable collection of member stories about collaborating is available here.

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