Posts Tagged “Lynn Harden”

Women with Something to Say

I want to talk about nonprofit organizations, and how in the early months of the economic downturn, many considered the idea of collaboration. Many of our colleagues were open to the idea of strategic alliances ranging from shared back-office operations to Lynn Hardenfull-blown mergers. Yet, only 1 percent of actually reported having merged with another one. One conclusion is that it appears that the urgency for organizations to align themselves strategically has waned, although foundation funding to nonprofits continues to decline or disappear completely.

In the communities I work with, collaborations have been minimal, if they exist at all. Organizations may be waiting for foundation funding streams to reappear to pre-recession levels, negating the need for such collaboration. The truth of the matter is, funding as we knew it will not return to its glorious past. Organizations that do not seek to work closely with other groups only exacerbate the fragmented service-delivery system that prevents us from solving problems in our communities.

Nonprofit strategic collaboration is the path to change, meaningful impact and funding. Nonprofit leaders, however, are wired to get things done, and unfortunately, are not necessarily focused on identifying new ways to structure their organizations to improve service delivery. This requires a different set of skills and the luxury of time for reflection and planning.

Perhaps foundation program staff members, who know their grantees and communities intimately, should begin identifying and sharing what they observe as promising possible partnerships among nonprofits. This may be considered risky by some as foundation staff members resist “directing” organizations. However, with economic uncertainty here for a long time, if not now, then when…and if not from foundations, then where?

We need conversation starters and skilled intermediaries to help organizations recognize and realize new possibilities. Nonprofit leaders also need a safe space and time to engage peer organizations in a new way.

Finally, we need capital to move organizations from conversation to execution. To our knowledge, there are three funds—created either by shared pools of foundation money or by single foundations—that assist organizations with the capital necessary to align strategically. It is clear that we need more than three funds if nonprofit organizations are going to get serious about reducing inefficiency and producing strong results.

Get to know Lynn: Lynn A. Harden, a creative organizational strategist. As a consultant for nonprofits, Lynn has a unique ability to strengthen funding opportunities for your existing programs by creating compelling business plans, fundraising strategies. Contact: laharden@yahoo.com

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