Compass: Collaboration 03/27/2015,” Carolyn Hall Young

August 3, 2020; KPBS (San Diego, CA)

As nonprofits face community threats of joblessness and eviction in droves through the end of the year, even as the pandemic lingers and many schools and childcare facilities remain shut, nonprofits must find ways of making every potential resource count. Some of those come from the spontaneous partnerships that arise when nonprofits work across organizational boundaries at the intersections of things.

According to the Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI), collaborations can not only help to solve social problems but also facilitate efficiency, growth, and sustainability. Given the current circumstances faced with the pandemic, organizations need to find new ways to work together—both to survive and deliver on their mission. For instance, collaborating on funding bids can allow small charities to access money and initiatives they wouldn’t get and/or could not deliver on their own.

The Arm In Arm and the Housing Initiatives of Princeton (HIP) coalition, for example, received a $100,000 grant from the Princeton Area Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Fund, in July. As shared with Community News, these funds will be used to ease the negative financial hit felt by households in the community. The aid is more than three times what Arm In Arm or HIP could have offered if working individually rather than in partnership.

In Minnesota, the Salvation Army and Connections Shelter plan to collaborate to provide around-the-clock homeless shelters and provide casework to help find more permanent housing for guests this fall. As reported in the Free Press, Leslie Johnson, Salvation Army’s business administrator, shared that by working together, both organizations will be able to fill gaps for individuals and families who would otherwise have no place to go until overnight shelters open.

Collaborations can also expand to local companies and business networks, especially if they have deep roots within the community or the social problem directly impacts their operations.

For instance, the MARTA transit system in Metro Atlanta is partnering with local nonprofit HOPE Atlanta to introduce a new program to aid homeless people who have taken refuge on the transit system.

“Those seeking refuge in MARTA’s stations, trains, and buses will be met with trained street case managers who are relentlessly pursuing stable and supportive housing solutions with them,” Jeff Smythe, the executive director of HOPE Atlanta, shared with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This approach has been proven to be the most effective intervention in permanently housing unsheltered individuals.”

There are various ways that organizations can collaborate to reduce the rise in homelessness especially during the pandemic. These can be formal arrangements focused on funding and specific program impacts, or informal collaborations focused on knowledge and sharing skills.

As Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross, shared in Third Sector, COVID-19 has challenged nonprofits to take more risks: “We know that building new relationships and experimenting with new ways of supporting people is the only way to respond to the unprecedented level of need created.”—Deidre Fraser