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CCF/SCF Establishing Community Partnerships

Published: September 14, 2012
Audience:
Strengthening Communities Fund (SCF), Compassion Capital Fund (CCF)
Category:
Guidance, Policies, Procedures, Tools

 


Overview

Welcome to the e-learning lesson on sustaining positive training and technical assistance outcomes through community partnerships. In this lesson, we’ll focus on two promising practices: promoting community involvement and promoting networking among nonprofits. By the end of this lesson, you should be able to explain the importance of each of these practices, identify resources to help your organization implement these practices, and apply the practices to training and technical assistance for the nonprofits you serve.
Effective TTA helps nonprofits expand their reach.

Proper training and technical assistance (TTA) helps small, well-intentioned nonprofit organizations gain the skills and knowledge necessary to build their own capacity and improve efficiency, effectiveness, and overall reach in the communities they serve.

This lesson will focus on two specific practices that can help nonprofits sustain positive TTA outcomes through community partnerships: promoting community involvement and promoting networking among nonprofits.
This lesson will build your knowledge of these two promising practices.

By the end of this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Explain the importance of promoting community involvement and promoting networking among nonprofits;
  2. Identify resources to help your organization implement these practices; and
  3. Apply the practices to training and technical assistance for the nonprofits with whom you work.

 1. In Focus: Promoting Community Involvement

By encouraging community involvement, intermediary organizations can help to promote sustainability through meaningful partnerships. These community partnerships can lead to improved participant performance in training and technical assistance areas. Observing how other organizations implement partnerships is a great way to develop ideas and strategies for the nonprofits you serve.


Practice review: promoting community involvement supports nonprofits’ continued growth.

When working in a condensed time period, such as that of a year-long partnership or TA engagement, it is often difficult to assess whether nonprofits will be able to sustain continued improvements and growth in their organizational capacity. Increased involvement within the community through local interagency groups, membership organizations, and ties to a community-wide strategic plan can help support organizations through the transition out of the project and promote continued growth and collaboration in the communities in which they operate.


Two organizations have applied this practice to build community partnerships.

The Kentucky River Foothills Development Council and Southwest Georgia United (SWGAU) are two nonprofits that incorporate community involvement to strengthen their organizations. You can adapt their methods for your own organization—regardless of whether you are part of an intermediary or a nonprofit.

The Kentucky River Foothills Development Council encourages the nonprofits it serves to join local interagency councils to foster cooperation and collaboration. Interagency councils typically act as forums in which members share resources, collaborate, and receive professional development. The councils attempt to help nonprofits in capacity building, and they encourage and reinforce the community’s existing strengths.

SWGAU partners with two local “Family Connection Agencies” to provide nonprofits with effective and thorough training and technical assistance. These two agencies, the Crisp County Community Council (CCCC) and the Dooly County Community Enrichment Coalition (DCCEC), provide a cohesive “system of care” around services for children and families by hosting meetings where organizations discuss collaborating services, needs, and new programs. Nonprofits continue to meet with family connection agencies in their county after the completion of SWGAU’s TTA services.

To learn more about ways to encourage community partnerships, and to read additional examples of how these organizations implement them, view the video below.

 

 

 2. In Focus: Promoting Networking Among Nonprofits

In this practice, intermediary organizations encourage nonprofits to develop meaningful connections with peers. This is similar to the first practice, except instead of connecting with communities, nonprofits connect with each other to foster sustainable partnerships and collaborative relationships. This practice can lead to improved participant reactions to training and technical assistance activities.

Practice review: peer networking among nonprofits helps sustain organizational growth.

Informal relationships among nonprofits can help promote collaboration, resource-sharing, and the development of sustainable business relationships. Intermediaries can promote these peer collaborations through formal networking opportunities at in-person training events, peer mentoring programs, and the utilization of project management tools that promote resource-sharing.


Consider these suggestions for implementing peer networking.

One way to implement peer networking is to match nonprofits with more experienced “mentor organizations.”  The Kentucky River Foothills Development Council, for example, matches nonprofits with larger, more experienced groups.  Mentoring organizations are required to sign an agreement regarding the number of hours set aside to work with their nonprofit mentees.  KRFDC hopes these informal peer mentoring relationships will continue beyond the life of the TTA services, and result in potential subcontracting agreements between mentor and mentee organizations.

Another suggestion is to encourage peer-to-peer learning through training and workshops.  The Southeastern Network of Youth and Family Services, or SENetwork, has hosted retreats midway through a project with a nonprofit.  The retreats focus on networking, peer learning interactions, and developing collaborative relationships to help nonprofits reach their capacity building goals.  Additionally, when developing new training, SENetwork searches for subject matter expertise within its own member base before looking to contract with outside trainers or providers.

Finally, use technologies that promote collaboration and resource-sharing among nonprofits.  SENetwork provides all of its nonprofits with access to BaseCamp (a web-based project management and collaboration tool) and iLinc (a web- and video-conferencing service) to promote collaboration and resource-sharing.   (You can check these tools out at http://basecamphq.com/ and http://www.ilinc.com.)


Summary

 

Thank you for taking the time to view this e-learning lesson on sustaining positive TTA outcomes through community partnerships. A partnership between a nonprofit and the community can connect the organization more deeply to the area it serves, while simultaneously strengthening its reach and capacity. The same applies to partnerships among nonprofit peers. Understanding the importance of these relationships can help you, as an intermediary, better serve nonprofits.
Thank you for learning more about establishing community partnerships.

Based on this lesson’s content, you should now be better equipped to:

  1. Explain the importance of promoting community involvement and promoting networking among nonprofits;
  2. Identify resources to help your organization implement these practices; and
  3. Apply the practices to training and technical assistance for the nonprofits with whom you work.

Consult these references for additional resources on community partnerships.

The National Council of Nonprofits (www.councilofnonprofits.org )
As the nation’s largest nonprofit network, the National Council of Nonprofits aims to help nonprofits manage and lead more effectively, collaborate and exchange solutions, engage in policy issues affecting the nonprofit sector, and achieve greater impact within the community.  The National Council of Nonprofits operates state-level associations throughout the nation.

BVU (www.businessvolunteers.org)
BVU is a nonprofit organization that links businesses and nonprofits to strengthen and build capacity in nonprofits, enabling organizations to address important community issues.  To see a list of benefits for nonprofit member organizations, click the web link above.

BaseCamp (basecamphq.com)
BaseCamp is a web-based project management and collaboration tool that allows users to share documents, assign project tasks, and track progress towards a shared goal. 

iLinc (www.ilinc.com)
iLinc promotes collaboration by supporting online learning, web-meeting hosting, and webinars.