Different Types of Nonprofit Collaboration
In the nonprofit space, collaboration can take a variety of forms, as noted by a recent Blackbaud study. Among them are:
- Peer-to-peer partnerships, which involve working with fellow nonprofits or foundations in the same community
- Cross-community partnerships, in which nonprofits from outside communities team up
- Partnerships with governmental organizations at the federal, state or local level
- Business partnerships with for-profit organizations that offer resources that nonprofits might not be able to acquire otherwise
Perhaps a nonprofit collaborator has a broad reach on social media, making it a good fit for fundraising efforts. In the case of a business partnership, maybe a collaborator can offer access to people or technical infrastructure to get an initiative off the ground.
However, the potential for partnership doesn’t necessarily mean that every collaboration will be a good fit. Panepento noted the importance of looking for areas where an outside organization can complement existing skill sets.
“Partnerships work better when you have complementary missions and complementary skills, and you can figure out ways in which a partner organization can bring something new or different to the work that you’re doing and help elevate it,” Panepento says.
Nonprofit Integration Considerations When Collaborating
Of course, every organization has its own technology stack and way of working, which can create hurdles for collaboration.
For example, Panepento cites differences in platforms and customer relationship management tools that can create back-end challenges for organizations when distributing and accessing data. Sharing data also comes with potential privacy, compliance and security issues, such as the General Data Protection Regulation.
With more than three-quarters of nonprofits lacking a data strategy, as recent Salesforce data notes, navigating these hurdles can be a challenge.
Technology integrations can help. In a recent blog post, Jessica Hood, Salesforce.org’s vice president of global innovation and digital transformation, notes that platforms with strong interoperability, even if they’re made by different vendors, can help ensure one platform can talk to another as necessary.
“Now the information that exists in different places can be securely shared and made usable,” she writes. “You can pull insights out of Tableau, unlock data to streamline business processes, and connect Salesforce to all your core business systems, so your programs can ‘speak’ to your operations from inventory management to finance.”