Grassroots efforts are still abound in the technology mesh. Consulting nonprofits affords me and my team a bird's eye view of charitable organizations and the needs that always seem consistent-collaborations. With this, we often question our clients about their grassroots partners and better ways of attracting new, innovative partners for funding opportunities. We fondly refer to these partners nowadays as strategic alliances and collaborations.
Recently, we obtained a nonprofit client who serves the blind and visually impaired in our local community here in Florida. With a busy executive director and committed board leaders, we inquired about collaborations as a way of leveraging their fundraising goals.
Surprisingly, we found that after 18 years, the organization had never sought collaborative partners for enhanced funding support. However, they seemed open to the idea. Back in the 1990's, grants were abundant, void of "matching-grant" requirements and heavy need for collaborative efforts.
Today, foundations and donors alike prefer that nonprofit organizations create innovative, far-reaching programs that are both measurable and offering tremendous impact. Moreover, they look for and evaluate an organization's ability to garner strategic alliances.
As technology grows and changes, foundations and donors expect a new level of return on their investments. Streamlining expenses while finding right technology can open up new avenues for partnerships and innovative approach to fundraising.
For example, our client has a new green building. They offer the blind and visually impaired clients with job and transitions training programs. As their new consulting team, we began researching potential partners and opportunities for collaborative efforts that would benefit the organization.
Not only are we charged with impacting existing programs but researching new funding streams for the organization's overall operations. We considered new green, technology and possibly health systems that could be effective partners. But, what do nonprofits consider when assessing mergers, strategic alliances and collaborations?
A recent study conducted by the Fairfield County Community Foundation in Virginia sited pros and cons to collaborations and mergers.
According to the March 2013 issue of Nonprofit Quarterly, "the survey drew a 30 percent response rate, and of the 104 Fairfield County nonprofits surveyed, eight percent have merged and 21 percent have considered a merger. Those organizations that merged reported that the primary benefit was not cost savings, but higher quality and quantity of services available to the community."
Further, the surveys implies that, though cost-savings may have been the initial strategy, mergers and collaborations positively impact quality of programs. So, here it is. Organizations must focus on the public good and ways programs may impact more clients.
For our team the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition located here in Pensacola was an excellent candidate to consider for our client, Independence for the Blind. Uniquely, we found that the mission fit perfectly. Their website states that
"researchers at IHMC pioneer technologies aimed at leveraging and extending human capabilities. Our human-centered approach often results in systems that can be regarded as cognitive, physical, or perceptual orthoses, much as eyeglasses are a kind of ocular orthoses. These systems fit the human and machine components together in ways that exploit their respective strengths and mitigate their respective weaknesses." IHMC
We juxtaposed the needs of IB-West with the innovative efforts of IHMC's technology. Screen reader software is an ongoing need for the blind and visually impaired. The possibility to merge and/or bring these two entities together for possible collaboration was an exciting prospect. IHMC's innovations with IB-West's client needs could bring forth new funding strategies for growth. We will certainly keep our readers abreast of this partnership approach for outcome.
Nonprofit, charitable organizations should explore new collaborations to enhance quality and quantity of programs. Although increased funding may be the focus, consider leveraging program needs to a potential partner's capabilities. If you have an organization in need of new, innovative strategies for growth, collaboration may be worth a gander.
Visit the Foundation Center and review the Nonprofit Collaboration Resources page and database. You never know what new partners await.