Dr. David Garvey, Department of Public Policy Director of the Nonprofit Leadership Program presented Key Factors and Lessons Learned in Choosing Strategic Partnerships at the 2018 Annual Conference of the Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance, held October 2nd at the Connecticut Convention Center.
In his session, Dr. Garvey presented findings from his research of Connecticut nonprofit strategic partnerships. The study is based on interviews with Connecticut nonprofit leaders who have been identified by their peers as having strong skills in developing and managing strategic partnerships. Those interviewed represented a cross section of Connecticut towns and cities, and various positions held in the state’s nonprofit sector. The core aspect of the finding of the qualitative study was based on two questions asked of the practitioners: 1) describe the dynamics of nonprofit collaboration that you were engaged in that in your opinion worked and explain why. 2) describe the dynamics of nonprofit collaboration that you were engaged in that in your opinion did not work and explain why. The collaborations described by the study participants ranged from nonprofit to nonprofit and cross-sector (nonprofit and government) collaborations. The data from the individual interviews was coded and then aggregated to identify common dynamics that occurred in effective and non-effective strategic partnerships from the study of participants’ perspectives.
The study respondents when describing the dynamics of collaborations that worked consistently noted eight traits.
- Belief in the value of collaboration by all parties
- Trust between partners
- Clarity of purpose of the collaboration
- Equal value of the desired outcome of the collaboration by all parties
- Appropriate voice and power within collaboration
- A mutually agreed and defined governing/decision-making structure for the collaboration
- Diversity of skill-sets and expertise between partner members (organizationally and individual)
- Partners having strong soft-skill sets for team building (collaborative competency)
An additional ninth finding, especially relevant for long-term partnerships between organizations, is the strategy of engaging collaborative partners in the succession planning, when one organization is seeking to fill a position of senior staff, in which that staff role has been intrical to the collaboration.