You are here: Home » How To Set Up A Family Foundation » Collaboration

Effective Collaboration

If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together- African Proverb

Collaboration is a group of organisations (more than one) who share common values agreeing to work together for a shared common goal. A strategic collaboration, however, is one that advances your organisation’s mission through providing the right methods, channels, resources.

In philanthropy, collaboration is also known as ‘impact philanthropy’; the coming together of non-profits towards a social cause. This is considered the best way of solving some personal weaknesses as an entity through merging strengths with like-minded organisations.

Collaboration types

  1. Community-based collaborations are those like-minded organisations within a community coming together.
  2. Government based collaborations are those that usually provide access to populations that serve
  3. Faith-based collaborations are the most diverse as they involve people with different skills. Due to their wide geographical range, they have the greatest access to people and information and thus make great partners.

Why collaborate?

  1. To bring about effective and efficient delivery of programs and reduce possibilities of duplication of efforts
  2. Pool resources, more access to funds/ co-creation of strategies
  3. To create synergies between actors that normally would not come together; helps eliminate ‘silos’ within sectors
  4. To increase networks and visibility
  5. To plan, execute and implement on a broader scale and generate impact on several initiatives
  6. To receive and give services
  7. Cost efficiencies due to shared tasks

The Partnership building process

Collaboration and partnership can either be informal and formal (contractual agreements), while some may evolve from being informal to formal as more common values emerge.

How to enter into a collaborative agreement

  1. Identify a suitable partner and engage
  2. Trust and respect the relationship building process
  3. Be open to new ideas and concepts
  4. Thoroughly discuss goals and objectives of each partner
  5. Ensure that partnership is mutually beneficial
  6. Practice equity and realistic expectations
  7. Establish governance, procedures, ground rules, equity
  8. Bring something to the table, resources may be required (e.g. time, assets, money, perspectives, networks,)
  9. Draw up a simple Memorandum of Understanding which will be a helpful reminder of the partnership agreement

  10. Acknowledge each other’s differences

*Remember to always take minutes during any meeting

Key principles in Collaborative Philanthropy

  • Commit to long-term investment
  • Involve key stakeholders across various sectors
  • Bring something to the table
  • Engage the community
  • Dedicated staff capacity

In as much as impact philanthropy can be successful in generating social impact, it does not always come without limitations. Consideration of the external environment and its impact is crucial. Thus, collaborative partners should take note of the following;

  • Increase visibility and legitimacy of your work
  • Get credibility from external sources e.g. government, other institutions
  • Recognise that government policies and practices may hinder and or influence what happens on the ground, e.g. issues around funding

Collaborative Philanthropy through fundraising

In-kind donations offer non-profits the opportunity for a variety of collaborative strategies. For example, grants received from government departments or other philanthropy organisations; family foundations or alumni, usually need you to sign some form of agreement. Some collaborative approaches come in the form of major donations, which offer longer-terms for collaboration, crowd-funding programs encourage the ordinary people to be givers, donating a certain amount for a specific cause. The lattr becomes the grassroot approach of philanthropy, encouraging collaboration from individuals within and between communities.

Strategic partnerships have the potential to aid in the success of your organisation’s goals and initiatives, enables you to contribute to much bigger causes and broaden your impact, have alliances with organisations that you normally would not share common space with at the same time provide you access to new target audiences.

*Partnerships take time and effort, not all partnerships have benefits (especially if partners do not have common values.

*Effective collaboration goes beyond a handshake, contractual agreements, money received and given but to foster long term relationships.


The resources included in our ‘resources’ section/ tab offer success stories of other philanthropy organisations, family and community foundations, alumni, who found collaboration beneficial; how they achieved the success and when you should consider collaborating.