Economic challenges and increased competition for dwindling resources is motivating many nonprofits and public agencies to take a closer look at collaboration as a means of ensuring sustainability. Organizations are increasingly leveraging resources by forming partnerships with other agencies. Funders welcome strong collaborative efforts that include joint grant seeking that will result in strengthening organizational effectiveness, expanding reach, and implementing best practices in a cost-effective manner.
The economic benefits that result from strategic partnerships with nonprofits, government agencies, and for-profit entities are numerous. Examples include securing funds that would not otherwise have been available without a partnership, having additional human resources (e.g., administrative assistance or staff with marketing and PR expertise), facility use, and shared costs associated with program evaluation. It can open the doors to major funding opportunities and build the capacity of an organization in the long term.
Where Should an Organization Begin?
An ideal time to explore collaborative opportunities and strategic alliances with other entities is during your organization’s annual strategic planning process. Identify organizations that complement your programs and services and vice versa. The entities with which you partner should be open to innovative ideas, organized, flexible, transparent, credible, and reputable. They should be enthusiastic about joining forces and working together as a team.
After identifying a strategic partner, meet with key leadership from the organization with which you are partnering and agree on the vision, scope, and purpose of the specific project for which you are seeking joint funding. Take inventory of the specific resources and strengths of each partner and the areas that need improvement. Identify the best practices related to the implementation of programs and services. Creating a logic model would be very useful exercise. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Logic Model Development Guide is a great resource.
Develop a work plan that includes a series of meeting dates and dates for the completion of proposal components. Assign writing tasks according to expertise and to the requirements of the grant application. For example, there may be specific staff members and/or outside experts who will take the lead on need assessment, budget development, or evaluation. Establish a process for sharing proposal drafts and edits and establish a final review team. Draft a written agreement that outlines the expectations and responsibilities of both parties in writing. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) or a letter agreement should be drafted and reviewed by legal counsel even if it is not required by the funding source. Allow enough time to secure letters of support, develop job descriptions, and secure resumes and other required attachments.
Successful joint grant seeking allows organizations to:
- Maximize resources and achieve more effective and efficient use of financial resources
- Enhance program/service delivery
- Build strengths and complement resources
- Learn from one another
- Demonstrate to funders that the organizations are preventing duplication of services/programs by collaborating
- Establish a strong collective voice and presence in the community for which it serves
A Helpful Source
Check out this Foundation Review article detailing a successful collaboration by the Rhode Island Foundation, city government, and nonprofit organizations to create a Green & Healthy Homes Initiative in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods in Providence, Rhode Island.
About the Author
Ruth Peebles, President of The INS Group, offers 25 years of experience in the nonprofit management. The INS Group is a national consulting firm that provides organizational development and capacity building services to nonprofits, government agencies and faith-based institutions. Services include grant writing, grant research, strategic planning, strategic fund development planning, succession planning, executive coaching, and board training and board development. Ms. Peebles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
eCivis is the nation's leading grants management software solution and the ideal platform for improving local governments' and community-based organizations' grants performance. For more information about eCivis, visit www.ecivis.com. For media inquiries, contact email@example.com.