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#317 Should You Go It Alone? A “How-To” on Collaborations, Partnerships, and Mergers

July 30th, 2018

Richard Marker

Collaborations among funders and between funders and those delivering services are not new. On a professional level, I have been involved with them for over a quarter of a century, and they existed long before I got involved. Now, though, they are very much in fashion, and for good reason. The more we try to address and redress systemic issues, the more it is clear that no one funder or NFP/NGO can ever reasonably expect to solve them alone. Often the challenge is limited financial capacity, but just as frequently, there are needs for complementary expertise, or combined influence for advocacy, and more.

There are many wonderful examples of successful collaborations and partnerships, some of which I have been involved with, and dozens more that I only know about. But there are also many examples of those that failed [including some to which I was a party.]. Some failed nobly – and should be lauded. Their attempts gave us much to learn even if their initial expectations were not met and their assumptions proved not quite right. Others, though, failed because they didn’t do their own self due-diligence before signing on. That failure can and should be avoided. Thus, this post and offer.

In order to help funders, give ourselves the greatest likelihood for success, or to determine if we are well suited to be in a funder collaborative at all, several years ago, I developed a guide for the field. This piece shows that much of the hard work of a successful collaborations must take place before beginning. It also itemizes what “management” needs to be in place and articulates the additional challenges when a collaboration is inter-sector.

While I have produced many “how-to”s, this one, updated regularly, has been the most requested.

Once again, I offer this PowerPoint to fellow funders who request it. The document stands on its own, but needless to say, it is always most effective if presented with commentary. If, though, you are a funder [individual philanthropist or foundation or other funder organization] and would like to receive a courtesy copy, please contact me directly. Your feedback on its utility to your work and in your situation will guarantee that the next edition will be even more useful to our field.

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