Investing in Collaboration

2.B Make informed decisions about investing in the right collaboration

Collaboration requires a significant commitment of time and resources. Before making a decision to invest, do your homework and assess whether there is the right fit with your organization’s priorities, capacities, risk tolerance and values.

Does your staff have the capacity to be an effective collaborative partner?
There are specific characteristics, skills and competencies that are associated with effective collaborators. Assess whether staff are personally prepared, engaged and empowered to effectively participate in collaborative opportunities. Also consider your ability to invest in building staff capacity to become stronger collaborative partners
How do we assess whether a potential collaboration aligns with our organization?
Before deciding to invest in a collaboration, evaluate the collaboration’s alignment to your organization’s mission, values, priorities and needs. Get clear about the role your organization can play and reflect on the benefits and weigh them against the costs of time and resources. Consider the potential risks and implications and be sure they can be adequately addressed.
Learning from Your Collaboration Experience
Prior to launching into a new strategic planning cycle, a neighbourhood organization conducted a review of all their collaborations. They asked staff and board members which collaboration tables they were involved in, what progress they were making through collaborating, and what they were learning about themselves as a partner. They also learned that they were currently engaged in over 80 collaborations, and the majority related to information sharing. As a result, Board and staff agreed to work together to develop a collaboration policy to help them to decide when it was in their best interests to participate in new collaboration initiatives, and when to withdraw from those that weren’t aligned with their mission and values.
Assessing Organizational Fit and Capacity to Add Value

A youth centre with considerable experience working in collaboration was approached by the local University to partner on a large scale, multi-year research and student practicum project. In the process of assessing organizational fit, they determined that the opportunity aligned with their new strategic plan and could enhance the Centre’s future visibility. Board and Staff members confirmed that they had the capacity to effectively participate, and that there was adequate funding to support the work of the collaboration.