Why aren’t new inspired and aspiring entrepreneurs looking for existing organizations and agencies they can partner with? Everyone seems to like the idea of collaboration, but most don’t want to collaborate in practice.
There are already about 33,000 non-profit organizations in Massachusetts. According to some estimates, there are between 750 and 1,000 nonprofits in Cape and Islands. They range from well-known hospitals and educational institutions to small, very small, mission-led organizations with no staff, no income and two or three board members.
When asked why people want to start their own nonprofit organization, they respond that they want to run an organization that will solve a problem or meet a need that no other organization is meeting.
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Why don’t new entrepreneurs start out by looking for existing organizations and agencies they can partner with?
Finding, partnering, or partnering with an existing organization has many benefits. An existing nonprofit organization already has tax status 501 C (3) which allows it to receive tax-free grants and donations. It already has an existing council, skilled staff, and hopefully a number of committed donors. The formation of a new nonprofit organization creates more competition in the community for talented resources, staff, and board members.
Some people think that the current range of nonprofits has become stale, serious and bureaucratic. Many think that by forming a new one, it will be fresh, more diverse and culturally relevant. He is likely to have a younger orientation and be more flexible in problem solving. However, there is a case for collaboration, or at least seeking collaborative initiatives first before launching a new business.
As policies and problems have become more complex and extend across traditional organizational boundaries and entities, theories of extending boundaries are being put into practice. Crossing boundaries occurs when members of an organization cross lines to push themselves beyond perceived or real barriers in order to seek information, knowledge, understanding and support.
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Research has shown that organizations that coordinate their activities and communicate with others in their communities improve the efficiency and effectiveness of both organizations. Of course, this is done informally every day. However, recently there has been a significant growth in the number of partnerships, public-private sector collaborations, and new entities called collaborations that encourage groups to do so formally and intentionally.
A collaboration has been defined as a group consisting of multiple stakeholders, organizations and community representatives that is attempting to work as a common entity, with the goal of solving a problem that has not been solved with a single organization working from alone. Facilitators are often hired to ensure that all members of the new collaboration constructively explore differences and seek solutions beyond their limited vision of what’s possible.
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Collaboration can be frustrating and is downright time-consuming, very time-consuming. But it takes a lot of time, money and energy to start a new nonprofit organization. Before launch, take another look at a like-minded organization with similarly aligned values and mission that may be hiding under their wing and being your tax agent. This type of partnership can be very efficient, effective and the new organization can build some autonomy over time. Working with an existing nonprofit can give you a clearer idea of what is needed in the community and whether needs could be better met through a partnership.
Contributed by Susan Chandler, certified mentor. SCORE Cape Cod and the islands. www.capecod.score.org, [email protected] Resource: “Making Collaborations Work: How Complex Organizational Partnerships Succeed,” Susan Meyers Chandler (2019) Routledge