Tell the story of your collaboration

If your charity teams with other groups to address an urgent need, take the time to help people understand how you work together and the difference your partnership makes for your community.

Many nonprofits talk a lot about the need for collaboration, and many foundations and corporate funders use their funding to encourage groups to form partnerships to make a bigger impact in addressing a problem.

Yet too few nonprofits bother to try to help their supporters understand how collaboration works, including the challenges and benefits of creating and carrying out effective partnership.

So make it easy for the people you count on for support to see the value of investing in joint initiatives.

First, provide some basic background. What is the community need? Who does it affect, and how? What are its causes? What already is being done about it? What is the impact of existing solutions? What are gaps in exising services?

Then, talk about your collaboration. What is its goal, and how does it plan to achieve it? Who are the partners, and what role does each play in the partnership? What led to your working together? What hurdles have you had to deal with in making the collaboration work, and what have you done to overrcome them? Why do you expect the impact of your collective effort will produce better results than the work each partner had been doing on its own? What difference has the effort actually made for the people and community you serve?

Collaboration can be difficult, slow, messy, frustrating work, and simply saying you work in partnership with other groups may sound good but does not help people understand why your collaboration matters and why they should support it.

If you want donors and other partners to join you in working together to take on a pressing community need, tell stories that help them see the return they can expect to get from collaborating with you.

Want professional help?

Philanthropy North Carolina is a consulting practice that provides writing and strategic communications support for nonprofits, foundations, colleges and universities, and others working for social good.

To find out more about hiring Philanthropy North Carolina to work with your organization to improve your communications, contact Todd Cohen at 919.272.2051 or

One response

  1. Todd, I shared this with my American Red Cross colleagues today in Montana and Idaho. A very timely article as we work to reduce death and injuries in home fires by 25% over the next 5 years. Red Cross depends on community partners like fire departments, faith communities, other nonprofits and local businesses. As always, your blog contains important information and causes me to think about my approach.

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