By Sarah Welch, Communications Director, Prevent Child Abuse Iowa
Suzanne Mineck, president of Mid-Iowa Health Foundation (MIHF), joined our YNPN morning discussion on October 15 to share a few insights into how collaborative partnerships can leverage greater funding opportunities. Here are a few highlights from the conversation:
According to Suzanne, the problems communities are dealing with today are complex and the response system is siloed, making it impossible for one individual or organization to fully address an issue. Partnerships bring together knowledge and perspective to address an issue from all angles.
For example, in addressing youth development, a group needs to look at aspects such as safety, family dynamics, early childhood development, available community supports, and other areas to achieve greater results.
It is important for funders, like MIHF, to be at the table, but one foundation or organization should not be the only funder of a collaborative effort. Partnerships can help all organizations working on the issue to pool their limited resources to have greater impact as well.
The downside to collaboration, noted Suzanne, is that you can lose some control, since you are one voice of many at the table. Many voices can also make an initiative more complicated to move forward.
All of these aspects were part of the Connections Matter project I shared as an example at the October 15 discussion. The Connections Matter initiative brought together Central Iowa partners who were all interested in addressing the same question: How do we make the public more aware of trauma research and engage people in responding?
Through this partnership, we developed a shared message and tools to help this message spread throughout communities. Mid-Iowa Health Foundation got us started with an initial grant, but the collaborative nature of the effort helped us secure other grants, and we have been able to leverage each organization’s resources, such as a registration system or coordination time.
The reasons why this collaborative effort worked for us is that it brought diverse partners to the table to address a specific problem we all noticed. The broad and unifying focus of the effort inspired new partnerships and funding opportunities as well. Except for the website, we have not tied any of our names to the project so that it is seen as a true community effort.
Along the way, I’ve learned that coordinating a project like this requires significant planning. It is important for each person to feel like they have a voice and can own part of the work. Each member must also be generous with resources, sharing what funding they secure for the greater good of the effort.
The result has been a community initiative that has had greater impact than my organization of six staff members could have achieved alone. Learn more about the project and the partners involved at www.connectionsmatter.org.
Please share: What has been a successful collaborative effort you’ve been a part of and what made it successful?