[Innovation Series: Revisited] Collaboration

Over the past 18 months, Patton McDowell & Associates has served clients while researching trends in the nonprofit sector. The result of this research has been the Nonprofit Innovation Series on the PMA blog. The firm has shared information on fundraising, governance, talent acquisition & retention and collaboration. This research has fueled our own firm’s progress in elevating nonprofits across the country.

collaborationAs part of our last blog post in the Nonprofit Innovation Series, the firm is revisiting Collaboration. Everywhere you go these days in the nonprofit sector, it seems “collaboration” is on everyone’s mind:

  • How can we more effectively meet our mission in partnership with other nonprofits?
  • If we discontinue this program, who might pick it up in our place?
  • Is it really time for us to start considering a strategic integration?

There is little doubt that the rise in popularity of collaborative efforts is directly related to declining support from institutional groups (Ex. corporate foundations, churches, family foundations, etc.), who have seen demand for support increase substantially in recent years.  But to be done effectively, collaboration needs to be more than just lip service, and local funders can tell the difference between substantive partnership and window dressing like never before.

In our monthly President’s Corner, firm President Patton McDowell tells us Why Proactive Collaboration is More Strategic Than Reactive Mergers. Collaboration is a buzz word in philanthropy right now. With a strong focus on collective impact within foundations and other grant makers, nonprofits that can merge or collaborate to achieve greater impact are seen as strategic and forward-thinking. Any organization would rather be proactive than reactive in these situations. Unfortunately, PMA has seen too many organizations forced into partnerships that put them in a position of weakness versus strength. Ultimately, this leads to collaborations that fail. In this article, Patton outlines some organizations that have made collaboration work.

In late 2011, authors and nonprofit strategists John Kania and Mark Kramer published an article in the Stanford Innovation Review that has had a tremendous impact on how policy leaders, nonprofits and funders tackle large-scale social change on the community level.  Termed “Collective Impact,” the movement has rapidly spread across the United States, with leading funders in the Carolinas embracing it as the new way of moving the needle on a number of social causes. In Collaboration and Collective Impact, PMA answers some frequently asked questions about this trend.

As part of our online Nonprofit Innovation Series, PMA interviewed Kelly Brooks of SHARE Charlotte on her organization’s role in collaboration within the Charlotte nonprofit community. Thank you to Kelly for sharing her thoughts on collaboration and innovation with PMA.

Kelly Brooks Interview

While this ends the Nonprofit Innovation Series for PMA right now, the desire to learn and grow never changes for the firm. Go forth, and innovate!

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Categories: Collaboration, Fundraising & Philanthropy, Innovation, Nonprofit


Patton McDowell & Associates is a consulting firm dedicated to helping nonprofits and charitable foundations achieve their goals. We maximize an organization’s resources and help it achieve strategic efficiency.


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  1. 3 Focus Areas for Nonprofit Innovation {Video} | Patton McDowell & Associates Blog - September 6, 2013

    […] and Michelle introduce the three areas of focus in this study – Creative Collaboration, Diversified Fundraising, and Talent Acquisition & Retention. With each focus, these presenters […]

  2. Why I Love and Hate the Word “Innovation” | Patton McDowell & Associates Blog - August 23, 2013

    […] defined) was covered in the firm’s findings.  The study suggested a heightened focus on collaboration, the critical importance of data and rethinking ROI on engagement efforts – hardly groundbreaking […]

  3. [Innovation Series: Revisited] Collaboration | ... - July 3, 2013

    […] The result of this research has been the Nonprofit Innovation Series on the PMA blog. The firm has shared information on fundraising, governance, talent acquisition & retention and collaboration. This research has fueled our …  […]

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