By Jordan Lappin
The nonprofit sector is far less cut throat than the for-profit sector, and for obvious reasons. However, even in the dog-eat-dog for-profit world, we hear about companies merging and partnering with one another as a mutually beneficial relationship. In the nonprofit sector, we almost never hear of organizations partnering together to collaborate to better serve their mission. But why? What are nonprofit organizations competing for?
When talking to the leadership teams at different nonprofits, one of the most common things I hear is that they are afraid of losing donors and volunteers to other organizations. These organizations maintain what has been termed “The Hunger Games mindset”. The “Hunger Games mindset” is the idea that you shouldn’t collaborate with other organizations because you might lose funding; and it’s tempting to get pulled into a mindset of scarcity because you’re afraid there’s not enough donors or dollars to go around. The truth is that this mindset is causing more harm than good for your nonprofit organization, and it’s destructive to the concept of making the world a better place.
I would be lying if I said that stepping outside of this “Hunger Games mindset” is easy! You might have different opinions, competing ideas, and varied operational strategies. So how do you break out of the “Hunger Games mindset”? First, you need to be able to see past the competitiveness and see the value in collaboration. Have you ever heard the quote: “alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” The secret to success in the nonprofit sector is to seek collaboration rather than be afraid of losing because of it. Non-profit organizations are all on the mission of making the world a better place. So why not work together? Look for natural opportunities to partner with and share resources for the greater good.
Once you break out of this “Hunger Games mindset”, you’ll be surprised at what can happen to your funding. First, you’ll realize that donors and philanthropists don’t normally just give to one organization. Most have a number of different nonprofits that they give their time, money, and resources to on an annual basis. Your donors and volunteers might also be inspired by the idea that your organization is partnering with another because you want to see change made in the community. Also, when you work with other organizations, you open yourself up to the potential of their donor base!
Jordan Hannan and Jordan Lappin