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Collaborative Efforts We Love

Monday, September 26, 2016

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Register now for our upcoming workshop, Building Collaboration from the Inside Out on October 19th exploring the action steps grantmakers can take to build a culture which leads to successful collaboration. 

This joint blog post was produced through the partnership between Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, Northern California Grantmakers, Southern California Grantmakers and San Diego Grantmakers

Collaborative Efforts We Love!

Collaboration - it’s been on our minds a lot lately. Across the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors many organizations are throwing aside the “go-it-alone” mentality in favor of working together to address complex problems. In a 2014 survey of philanthropic practice, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations found that 80% of respondents said they believe it’s important to coordinate resources and actions with funders working on the same issue. The majority of funders who responded to the survey said that their primary motivations for engaging in collaboration were to achieve greater impact (99%); tap into the expertise of other grantmakers (91%); inform their organization’s strategy (87%); assess community needs (80%); and minimize the burden on grantees (76%).

But despite this strong interest in collaboration, many grantmakers struggle to determine exactly how to work together. Collaboration is hard and messy. Because of this grantmakers need to spend time doing internal work to ensure they are “collaboration ready” before they even begin to think about working with others.

In a recent GEO publication, Building Collaboration From the Inside Out, we explore how grantmakers can create an internal environment that enables effective collaboration and lay out some steps grantmakers can take to ensure their organizations are ready to collaborate. This fall, we’ll bring the conversation about collaboration to California through five workshops offered in coordination with our partners at Philanthropy California (Northern California Grantmakers, Southern California Grantmakers, and San Diego Grantmakers).

Because we’ve got collaboration on the brain we asked our Philanthropy California partners to share recent examples of a few innovative state-wide collaborative efforts.

Southern California Grantmakers

Image result for dave sheldonDave Sheldon, Vice President, Programs and Strategic Initiatives

If there is one thing that SCG members care about most, it is that we have a resilient and sustainable nonprofit sector that can respond to the needs of our diverse region. The Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative is a wonderful example of philanthropy working together with local nonprofits to do just that.

Name: The Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative

Members: Thirteen funders supporting Los Angeles nonprofits with a strong interest in exploring strategic partnerships.

Objectives: NSI supports Los Angeles area nonprofits in exploring and implementing formal, long-term partnerships and restructuring efforts that lead to greater organizational effectiveness and efficiencies. These partnerships range from full-scale mergers to jointly managed programs to administrative back office consolidations.

Achievements to date: Since launching in 2012, NSI funders have funded 45 negotiations and 11 follow-up integration projects, totaling over $1.8M, to nearly 120 LA area nonprofits. NSI represents one of the largest collaboratives of its kind in the nation, and its impact is felt throughout the region by nonprofits of varying size, capacity, and programmatic focus.

Why we love this collaboration: The NSI allows the nonprofit participants to decide what the ultimate outcome should be and doesn’t force mergers or consolidations when participants can’t fully commit to them. As a result, the participating nonprofits are fully invested in the process and final direction. We should know--we are benefiting as participants with NCG and SDG to better support a coordinated philanthropic sector for California!

Northern California Grantmakers Kate Seely, Member Engagement Consultant

The Partnership for HOPE SF addresses some of the things that, as a San Francisco native, make San Francisco great. It has always been a city of a lot of life -- people of many different walks of life showing up in the ways that feel real to them. The diversity of the city shines through in galleries, street festivals, dance studios, art collectives, and it also has its challenges that need to be addressed -- generational poverty, immigration, economic security, workforce development, this list goes on. In a time when the gap between rich and poor is growing at an extreme speed, and people are getting either pushed out of the city or pushed into homelessness, this collaborative looks at some of those issues, working to preserve the diversity of this town that means so much to so many.

Name: Partnership for HOPE SF

Members: The partnership is led by the San Francisco Foundation, Enterprise Community Partners, and the City of San Francisco, and has multiple funding partners, including Bank of America, California Healthcare Foundation, The Walter and Elise Haas Fund, The Haas Jr. Fund, The Hellman Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, the Metta Fund, the SH Cowell Foundation, and the Wells Fargo Foundation.  

Objectives: To address generational poverty with a holistic approach in some of the most challenged public housing projects in San Francisco.

Achievements to date: The partnership considers residents to be at the center of community revitalization initiatives if we are to achieve a city where all people live in healthy and safe homes and neighborhoods with access to public services. For example, when they rebuild public housing sites, they do it at a one-for-one rate, maintaining all public housing in San Francisco that they are touching. Families also remain on site during redevelopment -- the collaborative is doing all they can not to increase displacement, which is already rampant in SF. HOPE SF invests in the whole community at once, working to, for example, improve school attendance, provide job training, and conduct public health interventions. Some of their recent successes have been lowering the rate of chronic absences in their sites from 53% to 39%, incorporating a trauma-informed approach in their health and wellness centers, and achieving a return rate to their public housing sites of 40% as compared to the nationwide rate of 12%.

Why we love this collaboration: Generational poverty is a beast, and cannot be addressed as a sole issue, it is a systemic one. This collaboration doesn’t shy away from the complexity of the issue and aims to share its learnings broadly, since many urban challenges are similar across different cities.

San Diego Grantmakers

Megan Thomas_crpd_web.jpgMegan Thomas, Senior Director of Collaborative Philanthropy

Ensuring that the men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families have the resources and support they need to successfully return to civilian life is everyone’s responsibility and is critical to our shared prosperity. This collaboration came to be because those involved understood that no one entity could do it alone.

Name: Military Transition Support Project (MTSP)

Members:  Representatives from San Diego's military, government agencies, elected officials, nonprofits, businesses, and philanthropists -- the full list is available here.

Objective: To develop a comprehensive plan to better coordinate community resources for veterans and connect those resources to service members as early in the process of transitioning to civilian life as possible.

Achievements to date: After more than two years of planning, advocacy, and fundraising, the MTSP Community Plan was implemented in the form of a new organization called zero8hundred. Outcomes in its first full year of operation in 2015 include:

  • More than 4,200 transitioning Navy and Coast Guard personnel heard presentations about the services available to them through zero8hundred
  • 422 “veterans or spouses in process” (VIPs) enrolled in the zero8hundred peer navigator program
  • Nearly 8,000 unique users accessed zero8hundred’s online resource portal (made available in partnership with 2-1-1 San Diego).

Why we love this collaboration: Despite each MTSP stakeholder’s own organizational agendas and priorities, everyone was committed to contributing their respective forms of support and resources toward their shared goal. It was a true cross-sector collaboration and its success is evident not only in its first-year outcomes, but also in the fact that it is receiving public and private funding for long-term sustainability and is being recognized as a national model for other military communities.   

If you’re interested hearing more examples of great collaborations happening in California and learning how your organization can embrace the mindset needed to be effective collaborators join us for a workshop this fall in the Peninsula, San Francisco, San Diego, Orange County and Downtown Los Angeles.