The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta believes well-managed and resourced nonprofits are essential to the region’s quality of life. One way this can be accomplished is by leveraging resources and partnering with stakeholders. Organizational partnerships are defined as cooperative, collaborative relationships that exist between two or more independent nonprofits to increase administrative efficiency and/or programmatic impact through shared, transferred or combined services, resources or programs. The varying types of partnerships are described as follows:
- Cooperation – Mutually beneficial administrative and program relationships that may include sharing information, clients, space and other resources. Also includes relationships in which organizations agree to work on projects together.
- Coordination – Deeper relationships built upon compatible missions, joint planning, division of roles and resources and consistent communication channels in which accomplishments are mutually acknowledged. Partners recognize the value in the relationship and begin to develop a supportive partnership infrastructure.
- Collaboration – The deepest of organizational relationships, where documented expectations and a structure to achieve goals beyond those any individual partner could achieve are in place. Organizations have established long term, ongoing operation of coordinated or cooperative activities and have demonstrated continuity and long-standing trusting relationships.
Successful organizational partnerships include, but are not limited to, the following characteristics:
- Organization has established working partnerships with other organizations in the community that have been in place for more than one year
- Organizational partnerships involve significant activities, which may include working to establish common goals, pooling resources, joint planning, implementing and evaluating services, and evaluating services and procedures
- Organizational partnerships are guided and executed by an up-to-date Memorandum of Agreements or similar documents
In addition to considering best practices when reviewing nonprofit organizations through its competitive grantmaking programs or on behalf of donors, Foundation staff assesses whether an organization has partnerships with corporations, government agencies or religious institutions, looks for operations-focused partnerships in addition to programmatic partnerships and reviews the results and impact of the partnerships.
Nonprofit Collaboration Resources at the Foundation Center, provides information for nonprofits to learn about mergers, joint programming and other forms of collaboration
The Collaboration Prize database provides access to information about partnerships from across the country that have applied for The Collaboration Prize, a $250,000 national award designed to identify and showcase models of collaboration among nonprofit organizations
La Piana Consulting, a national firm dedicated to strengthening nonprofits and foundations in the areas of strategy, leadership and strategic restructuring
Collaboration Handbook: Creating, Sustaining & Enjoying the Journey, a practical handbook published by Fieldstone Alliance that illustrates how to get a collaboration going, define desired results, determine everyone’s roles, create an action plan and evaluate the results