ASU Lodestar Center Blog

Current nonprofit sector research and recommendations for effective day-to-day practice from ASU faculty, staff, students, and the nonprofit and philanthropic community.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - 12:40pm
posted by
Jessica Sadoway,
Nonprofit and
Social Media Blogger

Just last Friday, The Collaboration Prize announced its third annual winner (congratulations to the Adoption Coalition of Texas!). This competition is working hard to encourage collaboration and highlight outstanding partnerships in our communities.

"Collaboration" is one of the big buzzwords in nonprofits now. It makes sense — when budgets stretch thin, it's important to maximize your resources. The Collaboration Prize itself is a joint effort by several pioneering organizations: The Lodestar Foundation has partnered with the AIM Alliance, the Foundation Center, La Piana Consulting, and other foundation and nonprofit leaders to support the 2011 Prize.

By working together, you're boosting the potential of both organizations. Two heads are better than one, right? How about three? Or five?

It's amazing how many resources are shareable. Have extra toiletries from your last donation drive? Give them to an organization that can use them. Need more volunteers for an event? Invite your friends from the nonprofit down the street to participate with their volunteers. In fact, why don't you plan the event together and make it even bigger and better? And things go on from there.

Yet it's not just about sharing supplies, funds, or even human resources. There are also hidden benefits. By working together, you're combining your reputation with theirs, and you're also incorporating their public support and branding with yours. You're sharing marketing and word-of-mouth, and we all know how valuable getting your name out there is when looking for support.

So, how do you get started? Isn't it hard to find partners?

Actually, it's pretty easy these days. The ease of communication has advanced steadily over the past two decades, but it went up exponentially as soon as social media hit the internet. Communication is now interactive rather than passive (for more on this concept, check out my blog post on the subject here).

With social media, organizations can create profiles and interact with local, national, and international partners in a myriad of ways. It starts as casual chat, sharing links and information, then maybe an idea is mentioned and discussed. An opportunity is discovered. A partnership is born.

Plenty of resources are appearing to help guide and promote collaboration. If you're completely lost, the Nonprofit Collaboration Database is a great place to start. It's packed with helpful information, as well as a searchable database of nonprofits who are looking for partners.

A great book on the subject came out late last year — if you're into reading, check out The Networked Nonprofit by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine.

So whether you're social media savvy or not, I encourage you to start looking around for opportunities. Give and ye shall receive. Support each other. Foster new ideas. Think outside the box to further your mission. Just make the connection!

To learn more about Jessica, click here to visit her blog or follow her on twitter.


Good Evening,

Thank you for the post. My first class I took in nonprofit organizations bothered me as there were so many organizations working towards the same or similar mission but were not working together. I saw a lot of ego and selfishness, maybe it was just my perspective. Then as I delved more into other classes I learned more about collaboration and how organizations were doing so. Finally in NonProfit Organization Management (NLM 430) with Stephanie LaLoggia we covered not only the 8 models of collaboration but collection action as well. It feels wonderful to know that there is collaboration out there and perhaps as you mention how much both organizations benefit. I personally have experience it with the organizations I work with and it just bring more success to the table. Everyone benefits by successful and effective collaboration.

It really caught my attention about how easy it is now to collaborate and communicate throug social media. I was one of those who thought it was hard and refused to do it, I now have to do it and I found it very helpful. We kind of use technology to our advantage. Collaboration is essential, as you meniton it helps boost each others credentials and more!

I appreciate you sharing some ways to begin. You are not just telling us what we need to do but how we can do it and how it can be easy! Thanks! :)

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