Collaborate with Your Community

Joining forces with other organizations, rather than competing with them, can help you improve your bottom lines and create exponential reach.

If you already have collaborations in place, it’s also important to periodically reflect on them to see if you can do more to maximize those relationships and create an even greater impact. 

Don’t have any collaborations in place? Sometimes even obvious connections can go unnoticed if your board and staff don’t take the time to brainstorm potential collaborations or relationships. 

Here’s how you can start collaborating with other organizations and make the most of your current collaborations. 

Collaborate with other nonprofits. 

Consider the nonprofits operating in your area and think about how a collaboration could benefit both of your missions. 

Are there relationships that could be built between your nonprofit and one that does similar work or serves a similar population? Could you reach out to local food pantries or meal service organizations that could help provide food for your programming or volunteers? Are there local nonprofits that run warehouses or resale shops that you could purchase equipment or furniture from? 

The synergies between you and the local nonprofits in your area will obviously be unique, so spend some time with your staff and board brainstorming who you could collaborate with and how to create an even greater impact in your community. 

Collaborate with high schools and universities.

Do you need volunteers or interns to help carry out your mission? Many high school students are required to volunteer in order to graduate. 

Think about schools in your area and how you can collaborate with those schools to offer unique volunteer opportunities and practical education for students. Even if they’re too young to help volunteer with the hands-on aspects of carrying out your mission, you might find opportunities at your fundraising events and initiatives that they can assist with. 

Are there certain projects that could be completed by a skilled intern? Could you use a marketing intern to help you with your website? Could you use a social work intern to help you execute your mission? 

Many colleges require or recommend that students complete an internship prior to graduating. Spend some time researching the local schools and programs and consider who you could temporarily bring on board and what you could have them do. 

Collaborate with corporations.

Traditionally, nonprofits collaborate with local corporations through sponsorships for certain projects or fundraising event sponsorships. However, that’s not the only way you can work with them. 

You might be able to engage with a corporation’s employee base on a more personal level. For example, many corporations offer gift-matching programs for their employees. Additionally, many corporations offer paid volunteer days or hours. 

Making sure your organization is on the list for potential opportunities is important. Research what organizations in your area offer this as an option and find out who you need to talk to in order to present your nonprofit to their employees as an option. 

Another way corporations often get involved with nonprofits is through in-kind drives. In-kind drives offer employees the opportunity to bring in items needed by your organization, such as canned goods, office supplies, bedding, toiletries, or cleaning supplies to their place of work for your organization to come and collect. This makes giving convenient for employees. 

Hopefully just reading through some of these ideas has caused your wheels to start spinning in terms of even just one or two contacts you could try to reach out to! 

You never know where the conversation or relationship could take you. From saving a few hundred dollars in donated supplies to gaining a few hundred volunteers, it’s so important to collaborate with your community beyond simply seeking monetary donations! 

Nonprofit Sustainability

Madison Gonzalez

Madison Gonzalez

Advancement Director at Morning Light, Inc.
Madison Gonzalez is a National Public Speaker, Storyteller of the Year Award-Winner, Best-Selling Author of Dear Mirror, Events Manager, and Published Poet. She is also the Advancement Director at Morning Light, Inc., and Indianapolis-based nonprofit that fosters community programs in Indiana for the terminally ill, seniors, families and the home-bound. As a storytelling coach and consultant, it is her mission to empower others to share their stories for impact and income. Madison can be reached at madison@toldcoaching.com.