Take a deep breath. I'm about to use a word that may set your teeth on edge. You might start having flashbacks to long meetings and unproductive conversations. You might feel instant frustration, but stick with me. This blog post is about collaboration.
There, I said it. The C-word. For a lot of people in the nonprofit sector, the word "collaboration" is akin to corporate-speak words like "synergy." We hear the word all the time, and it sounds great in theory! But what's it really even mean?
The truth is, collaboration, at least in the nonprofit world, means a lot of things. It means finding a way to blend or merge duplicated services. It means integrated services. It means partnerships. Sometimes collaboration means shared services.
Shared services, also called network alliances, are a way for nonprofit organizations to leverage and maximize existing resources. The best thing about this type of collaboration is that organizations with totally different missions can join forces.
Eos Nonprofit Consulting is working with a group of nonprofits right now that is exploring shared services, and we're thinking of this initiative as collective bargaining. The goal is to find better rates on essential contract services like maintenance, IT, healthcare, janitorial services, insurance and more. Not only will each organization save money, but also an amazing amount of staff time that's spent with quote comparisons and reference checks.
To learn more about how to implement shared services, I can't recommend highly enough that you check out what the Foundation Center has to say. Not only is there great original content there, but several links to more resources. You can learn about whether shared services might be right for your organization. If you need help putting the idea into action, Eos Nonprofit Consulting is here for you!