by Marie Palacios
Collaborations will help you grow for good, whether you are a for profit or a nonprofit.
My good friend, professional development consultant and ‘competitor’, Sandy Rees and I are most importantly COLLABORATORS.
Sandy and I have had this conversation on many occasions. Why do folks find it necessary to see others as competitors? Especially when we are all working towards common goals? We were both at the Best Friends Animal Society national conference a few weeks ago and this topic came up almost daily. Why? Because Sandy and I were both exhibitors and presenters at the conference. We were two booths apart in the exhibit hall (great for us!) and we referred people to each other all week! Sandy has some very special skill sets and strengths in areas I prefer not to fool with. I have some skills that Sandy also prefers not to fool with. We can both technically do the work, but we prefer to refer people to each other and focus on what we do best (and like doing best). We even partner to offer trainings, webinars, she contributed to my recent book and I contribute to some of her blogs, etc. It is an amazing working relationship!
This arrangement caused many raised eyebrows during the conference, and frankly among our nonprofit friends and consultants – causes conversation on a regular basis. We both feel that having a wide range of ‘tools’ in our tool kits (by this I mean resources in the form on people, businesses and groups) that we can utilize to help our clients in the most productive way. I always want to meet new consultants and groups that can offer quality products/services/skills/expertise to my clients. It helps me offer the best to my clients as well.
I acknowledge that I can’t do it all. Truth be told, I don’t want to do it all. I want to be great at what I do, and this means collaborating with others to make that happen. Sandy and I even have clients that we SHARE! Yes, you heard me… SHARE!
Is that taking money out of my pocket and vice versa? No… good grief. There is enough business to go around for everyone who wants to play in this big world. It’s all about realizing that we need to give quality to all our clients. – Mandy
Now let’s look at this from a nonprofit playground perspective.
“In the nonprofit world we struggle to align the two major “C” words in our daily operations- collaboration and competition. While we are more than willing to approach a potential partner if it benefits our own bottom line, it is much more challenging to maintain those relationships when we are not confronted with an immediate need or crisis or we are buried in the daily struggles of keeping our programs afloat.
How many of us have entered into conversations with a potential partner with the simple mindset of an equal exchange of goods or services? We will offer “x” if they offer “y.”
The fact that both parties are interested and willing to consider sharing resources is a great start, but don’t let tunnel vision block you both from a potentially life changing collaboration. Rather than focus on current resources that each organization has at its disposal, consider inviting the program staff and decision makers from each organization for more intentional conversation. “