Why are inspired and ambitious start-ups not looking for existing organizations and agencies they can work with? Everyone seems to like the idea of collaboration, but most don’t really want to collaborate in practice.
About 33,000 nonprofits already exist in Massachusetts. According to some estimates, there are between 750 and 1,000 non-profit organizations in the Cape and the islands. They range from well-known hospitals and educational institutions to small, very small organizations run by a mission, without staff, without revenue and two or three board members.
When asked why people want to start their own non-profit organization, they say they want to run an organization that will solve a problem or respond to a need that no other organization responds to.
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Why don’t new entrepreneurs start looking for existing organizations and agencies they can work with?
Finding, collaborating, or partnering with an existing organization has many benefits. An existing non-profit organization already has a tax status of 501 C (3), which allows it to receive grants and donations without taxes. There is already an existing board, trained staff and hopefully a set of committed donors. The creation of a new non-profit organization creates more competition in the community for resources, staff and talented board members.
Some people think that the current set of non-profit organizations is stagnant, stable and bureaucratic. Many believe that with the formation of a new one, it will be fresh, more diverse and culturally relevant. She is likely to have a younger orientation and be more flexible in solving problems. Nevertheless, there is reason to cooperate, or at least to seek joint ventures first, before launching a new one.
As policies and issues become more complex and extend beyond traditional organizational boundaries and entities, theories spanning boundaries are put into practice. Boundary reach occurs when members of an organization cross borders to overcome perceived or real barriers to seeking information, knowledge, understanding, and support.
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Research shows 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. Recently, however, there has been a significant increase in the number of partnerships, public-private partnerships and new entities called collaborations, which encourage groups to do so formally and intentionally.
Cooperation is defined as a group of many stakeholders, organizations and community representatives who try to work as a joint entity in order to solve a problem that is not solved with one organization working alone. Facilitators are often hired to ensure that all members of the new collaboration constructively explore differences and seek solutions beyond their own, limited vision of what is possible.
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Collaboration can be frustrating and definitely time consuming, time consuming. But it takes a lot of time, money and energy to start a new non-profit organization. Before you start, look again for a related organization with similar values and a mission that can push you under its wing and be your fiscal agent. This type of partnership can be very effective, efficient and the new organization can build some autonomy over time. Working with an existing non-profit organization can give you a clearer idea of what is needed in the community and whether the needs can be better met through collaboration.
Contributed by Susan Chandler, Certified Mentor. OCORE Cape Cod and Islands. www.capecod.score.org, [email protected] Resource: Making Collaborations Work: How Complex Organizational Partnerships Succeed, Susan Myers Chandler (2019) Rutledge