Partnerships the Nonprofit Way: What Matters, What Doesn't

Partnerships the Nonprofit Way: What Matters, What Doesn't

Partnerships the Nonprofit Way: What Matters, What Doesn't

Partnerships the Nonprofit Way: What Matters, What Doesn't

Synopsis

Collaboration and partnership are well-known characteristics of the nonprofit sector, as well as important tools of public policy and for creating public value. But how do nonprofits form successful partnerships? From the perspective of nonprofit practice, the conditions leading to collaboration and partnership are seldom ideal. Nonprofit executives contemplating interorganizational cooperation, collaboration, networks, partnership, and merger face a bewildering array of challenges.

In Partnerships the Nonprofit Way: What Matters, What Doesn't, the authors share the success and failures of 52 nonprofit leaders. By depicting and contextualizing nonprofit organization characteristics and practices that make collaboration successful, the authors propose new theory and partnership principles that challenge conventional concepts centered on contractual fulfillment and accountability, and provide practical advice that can assist nonprofit leaders and others in creating and sustaining strategic, mutually beneficial partnerships of their own.

Excerpt

From our perspective, partners must have complementary missions, seek
mutual gains, and engage in a willingness to enhance the effectiveness and
reach of their programs. This condition is not usually the case with our friends
in government.

                — Executive of a nonprofit social services organization devoted to
                community re-entry.

Overview

In this chapter, we introduce and consider the term “nonprofit-first” in some detail. This term describes an approach centered on the nonprofit sector’s nature, role, and institutions. We explain how the nonprofit-first approach is crucial to our study of partnership. We show how this perspective is valuable for both students and current nonprofit actors and provide an outline of future chapters.

Making the Case for Nonprofit-First Partnerships

Collaboration and partnership are well-known characteristics of the nonprofit sector. They can occur for a variety of reasons and may take many forms. They can also be an important tool of public policy and for creating public value. Particularly in cities, collaborations and partnerships involving nonprofit organizations are frequently used to implement public policy through program planning and assessment, managing public sector initiatives, and solving problems in the community. Nonprofits are also the central facilitating agents in many publicprivate partnerships, where accomplishing large-scale endeavors often requires the financial resources and imprimatur of government and business.

For more than a decade, scholars have examined collaborations that involve at least one nonprofit organization. Much of the scholarly inquiry on partnership arrangements over the past thirty years examines the ways in which public managers and sometimes private sector businesses administer public-private contracts involving large sums of money with nonprofit health and human service providers. This trend increased with 1990s changes in federal policy to delegate human services work products to nonprofit organizations. As these processes . . .

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