This article was original published in the July/August edition of ANCOR Links.
Human Service organizations have a long history of collaborating with one another, and such partnerships are much more common than partnerships among businesses in the private sector. In part, that's because for-profit businesses often view one another as competition; by contrast, human services frequently view working together as mutually advantageous.
When you work on a joint human services program, you can create combined initiative applications that bring in extra money from federal, state, provincial and private funders. Oftentimes, financial backers are eager to subsidize CRM software and other pieces of infrastructure that bolster these partnerships.
If that sounds exciting, the following tips should help make your alliance as fruitful as possible.
1. Research Is Your Friend
Before you meet for the first time with people from another community living group, become as familiar as you can about that organization. Read the information on their website and tour their headquarters. You'll definitely make a better impression during your initial get-together if you are informed and interested.
2. Be Clear From the Start
When you find a human services group with whom to collaborate, you should start by figuring out the nature of your relationship. Among the questions to discuss are:
- Who will lead this partnership?
- When and where will meetings take place?
- How will conflicts get resolved? Will certain people vote on various issues?
- Do you plan to work together for a brief period? Or can you envision an ongoing alliance?
It's also important to establish — at the outset — deadlines and the goals you can measure. What's more, each person involved should understand those objectives and his or her role in making them a reality.
3. Sharing Is Caring
4. Stay in Touch
Even the strongest partnerships can fall apart if the two sides don't communicate often enough. It's vital to talk over every aspect of a project with your partners and to keep gathering as many ideas as you can.
On top of that, take the time to simply check in with your associates occasionally, since doing so can build trust and goodwill. Then, should obstacles or problems arise, both groups will probably feel more comfortable reaching out to one another for help.
5. Assess the Process
Once you've completed a cooperative project, you should get together with the other team to evaluate the process. During the conversation, people can share their opinions about what went well and what aspects could use improvement. If the attendees would feel more comfortable, they could express those thoughts anonymously in writing. This type of honest dialogue may allow future ventures to go more smoothly.
- Ontario's Special Needs Strategy matches service providers to young people with disabilities throughout the province.
- The Pennsylvania Workforce Development Association links a wide range of organizations to help people find jobs and obtain vocational training.
- Hawaii's Center for Tomorrow's Leaders teams up with schools to inspire students and teach them how to make positive contributions to their communities.