Collaboration is key. Just ask any nonprofit, government agency, or company trying to provide services to their community. Each plays an important role to ensure services exist. For instance, nonprofits improve public programming by increasing access to resources like affordable housing, education, and health services. At the same time, they struggle to get everything done with limited staff and a shoestring budget.
Meanwhile, government agencies provide the infrastructure to front services. But they too suffer from limited resources and red tape. By enlisting the help of private businesses and government agencies, nonprofit groups can increase the efficiency of services to reach more people.
Effective collaboration is possible. For example, in Brazil, the nonprofit Comunitas works with the local government to improve the transparency and reliability of city services. Together, these groups are updating public processes including financial management, building permitting, and public health systems. But what does it take to collaborate?
Start with Technology
Private companies can also help to improve how services are delivered by providing technology and problem-solving capabilities. Take at-risk children in K-12 education as an example. With the right resources and collaboration, nonprofits, public, and private sectors can provide 360-degree support. Services, like tutoring, after-school care, and meal support, ensure students receive the proper support and tools they need to succeed.
Technology can provide greater visibility into an organization. Despite this benefit, many organizations are failing to use data in their decision-making. According to the State of Data In The Nonprofit Sector report, only 40 percent of nonprofits use data to make decisions. However, 87 percent said that data was extremely important to operations and decision making.
The importance of data cannot be underplayed, as the Local Investment Commission (LINC), a nonprofit organization in Kansas City, Missouri knows. The organization uses Social Solutions’ Apricot software to share data between local schools and its after-school programs. With access to school records, they can monitor important benchmarks like student attendance for over 7,000 students in the region. Using this data, the nonprofit can work with teachers and tutors to identify students who are about to drop out.
Ensuring Success With Collaboration
Technology provides the foundation for collaboration, but there are many best practices nonprofits can consider.
- Share different viewpoints: Each party understands different sides of the problem. By working to understand the challenge holistically, you can decide the best course of action.
- Define success collaboratively: Each party has their own reasons for joining a partnership. Make sure everyone’s goals are clear by deciding metrics of success, together.
- Build relationships and trust: By defining roles from the beginning, each group will understand who is responsible for what. This creates trust in each other’s expertise to meet the objective.
As the world continues to evolve, nonprofits face an increasingly complex system of need. Working collaboratively across sectors will only continue to grow in importance. While it can be difficult to get these initiatives off the ground, the payoff for those in need is huge. After all, who doesn’t want better, faster, and more reliable services?
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