A Personal Journey to Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership and Management Part 8 of 8: Strategic Alliances
Teamwork makes the dream work; and through earning a Certificate of Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership and Management by the Society for Nonprofits and Michigan State University, I was able to learn how to explore and develop successful alliances to accomplish an organization’s mission.
My eighth, and final, course dealt with strategic alliances, which is the coming together of two or more organizations in which at least one partner relinquishes some autonomy to accomplish an important organizational goal.
Here are the top four lessons I learned:
- Together everyone achieves more. That’s the power behind strategic alliances to address organizational capacity needs such as visibility, funding or innovation to accomplish your goals. But, strategic alliances require time and planning, especially in a time of emerging needs and nonprofit sector trends. New social problems and community needs emerge every day, and nearly 30,000 nonprofits are created annually, competing for funding.
- Having only one option is not an option. Types of alliances exist along a continuum based on the amount of independent decision-making an organization is willing to give up, from co-sponsorship to conglomeration. From least to greatest in giving up decision-making, there are 14 types of alliances: co-sponsorship, referral agreement, coalition, consortium, federation, network, joint venture, back office consolidation, parent/subsidiary, acquisition, divestiture, merger, consolidation, and conglomeration.
- Get in formation. When developing a successful alliance, it is critical to follow a strategic formation process including assessment, exploration, implementation and evaluation. When assessing, an organization should focus on identifying critical needs, researching and identifying possible partners, comparing strengths of potential partners with your organization’s needs and assessing intangibles. The exploration phase is when you reach out the potential partner and agree on goals, explore compatibility, identify deal breakers early, create a vision, identify alliance form and create an implementation plan.
- To be trusted is the greatest compliment. People trust people, not organizations. And, that’s why it is critical to build and maintain trust among the people in your strategic alliance. Meet with each other often, from conducting site visits to each other’s’ organizations to creating social events around trust-building activities.
As communicators, we work with others daily to meet our strategic goals. As nonprofit managers, we need those same skills to recognize when we need to tap into others’ expertise and resources.
Thank you for joining me on my educational voyage! At JPA, every day I get out of bed to help mission-driven organizations make a difference in this world. The lessons I learned through receiving my Certificate of Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership and Management has truly energized me, and will ultimately energize my clients, progress how we help people live healthier, happier lives.
Please be sure to read about each step of my Personal Journey to Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership and Management: