Monday, June 21, 2010

Collaborating & Partnering

We use these words often, but what do they really mean and how do you do it?

I had the opportunity to attend a session at the MCN Leadership Conference in June to learn about how 3 Social Justice Funders are building Partnerships and Collaborations. What the facilitator Julia Classen, principal with Aurora Consulting did first was to define the terms. That was helpful to me and it was timely – because I had just asked that question in the previous session!

“A collaboration involves linking or sharing information, activities, resources and power to achieve jointly what could not be achieved seperately”. (Definition from Melissa Stone, Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota).

A partnership is aligning multiple organization’s resources to address mutual community needs that may or may not be able to be addressed by one organization.

It also helped me to see some of these terms on a continuum which looks like this.

Cooperation – Coordination – Coalition – Partnership – Alliance – Collaboration – Merger – Acquisition.

As the continuum progresses the relationships go from more informal to formal.

The 3 Funders that made up the panel at the Leadership Conference were the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota; the Headwaters Foundation for Social Justice and the Pfund Foundation. What each of these funders has in common is a Social Justice mission – and some shared grantees. They are doing collaborative work around technical assistance, trainings, & evaluation models. To learn more about the Social Justice Funders Collaborative contact David Nicholson at 612-879-0602 or email him at

What the panel agreed on was that “We are stronger together”!

Holly Witt
NRS – Alexandria Charter

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