Excerpt from Avoid Chaos! on Community Partnerships

Here's a chapter from my new ebook, Avoid Chaos! A Step by Step Guide for Executive Directors in Not-For-Profit Organizations.  This chapter discusses partnerships with other community agencies.  Harder than you think.

In the Not-For-Profit (NFP) sector, I can all but guarantee that every organization needs more money than they have, to do the things they want to do.  Later in the book, I talk about internal "war" regarding program offerings at NFP organizations.  Every organization struggles with them.

Depending on the area, I can guess there are several NFP organizations in your local area.  They provide a variety of services, and some (if not most) may overlap with what you offer.  Occasionally the stars align, and organizations will specialize in something that is not offered anywhere else.  This is an opportunity for your organization to share (or receive) those services for your customers, when you likely couldn't have offered those services in the past.


A big challenge you may face is getting an audience with your counterpart at these partner organizations.  If their director has not established boundaries in their schedule, they are likely drowning in workloads, and unable to allocate time to "dream" about potential partnerships.  They're in full-time firefighting mode, without having a fire hose to put fires out.


On the BreakfastLeadership.com blog, there's a post on triaging your calendar.  At the time of this book, I work in the healthcare sector, so the phrase triage is normal in my speech.  

For a successful day, you should look at the next day the night before. This will mentally prepare you (or scare you) of what you have to face the next day. I also suggest looking at a week view of your calendar, to allow you to batch like-items together (when possible.)

A deeper subject is when to schedule tasks, meetings, and so forth through your day. Most of us in management do have some flexibility on our schedules, but even if you are front lines, you can work with your bosses to establish the best times to meet. My next book on making your schedule match your inner life with go deeper into this subject, with tools on how to discover the best times to perform tasks, hold meetings, and down time, to stay in rhythm with your soul. 

You are in control of how busy you are.  Replace the word busy with productive.  Learn your work rhythms, and schedule accordingly.  Your leadership will flourish if you do this.

If you do connect with your counterparts in the NFP sector, a key is to demonstrate a win-win scenario, whenever possible.  Offer your meeting space for workshops, maybe some volunteers or staff to help with coordination of classes.  Offer your workshops and classes to their customers.  Offer anything you can, to sweeten the partnership.  

Some directors will be open to anything, and quite thankful.  Some have a mindset of "Turf Wars" and will resist any type of sharing of anything.  When you encounter these types, just walk away, but leave them with information about your programs and services, if they care to share with their customers. 

If you gather a strong partnership with a few organizations, this can create opportunities to obtain "buying power" with other vendors, to help save on back office items such as office supplies, future shared locations, etc.  The sky's the limit with these types of arrangements.