Key Questions for Collaborators

By Hanh Le, Exponent Philanthropy

About two-thirds of Exponent Philanthropy’s members tell us they collaborate with others to learn, strategize, and/or fund together. Members also rank collaboration near the top of topics about which they want to learn more.

Earlier this month, I facilitated a strategy salon on collaboration. Riffing off the world café method, we explored 5 key questions and generated the tips below—thanks to all who participated!

When should you engage in collaboration?

Do engage when:

  • You want to have outsized impact
  • You have partners with shared values and vision
  • You lack the resources to go it alone

Don’t engage if:

  • You’re simply reinventing the wheel
  • Potential partners have conflicting motivations
  • Doing so could drain your resources with the potential for little gain

What are key elements of an effective collaboration?

  • Shared vision and goals
  • Commitment to effective use of time
  • Evaluation of impact

How do you establish goals for a collaboration?

  • Start with a vision, and focus in on what can be accomplished
  • Study the issue to gather relevant information
  • Identify collaborators’ shared and unique strengths
  • Determine key benchmarks for getting the work done

How do you identify good potential collaborators?

  • Collectively identify key stakeholders
  • Ask individuals to make connections within their personal networks
  • Tap into connections of networks like Exponent Philanthropy, regional associations of grantmakers, state nonprofit associations, and local giving circles

How do you effectively engage collaborators?

  • See all of the above
  • Clear and consistent communications
  • Thoughtful facilitation
  • Generous follow up and support

What did we leave out? What tips would you share for successful collaboration?

Related post: Get Your Fellow Funders to the Table

Hanh LeChief Program Officer Hanh Le leads our Programs and Services Team in guiding, connecting, championing, and elevating philanthropy with few or no staff. She has directed training, grant, and technical assistance programs for KaBOOM!, Community Technology Centers’ Network, and Peace Corps. Passionate about collaborative impact and community, Hanh helped launch the DC-area’s first Asian American giving circle, the Cherry Blossom Giving Circle. Follow Hanh on Twitter @HanhLeDC and Exponent Philanthropy @exponentphil.

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