Organizational Sustainability


The work of non-profits and community foundations requires much networking and partnership. The needs and problems they confront oftentimes are multifaceted: health projects, for example, oftentimes have economic dimensions (e.g. poverty, lack of income) or political dimensions (e.g. ability to be heard and to influence policy makers) to them, which must be addressed for the former to be responsive and effective. Instead of doing these allied activities by themselves, it is better for organizations to stick to their area of competence and collaborate – or network – with other expert groups so that they could focus on their core work and let the experts do the rest. This reduces failure and avoids false expectations; it also conserves and maximizes resources. Many times, too, non-profit work requires information or advocacy campaigns where the support of other groups becomes necessary. As some of the PLE participants said, “we should have powerful connections (networks)”, “involve other stakeholders”, “have effective use of human and intellectual resources to achieve [our] mission”, and “have broad-based community support”. Indeed, it is difficult for non-profits to work in isolation, for other groups can provide them many of the resources they need, such as technology, expertise, human resource, and linkages.

A comprehensive definition of strategic alliances (another term for networking or partnerships) is given by answers.com1. Although it defines it from a business perspective, the principle it follows is applicable to non-profits. It says:

  • “A Strategic Alliance is a relationship between two or more parties to pursue a set of agreed upon goals or to meet a critical business need while remaining independent organizations. This form of cooperation lies between mergers and acquisitions and organic growth.”
  • “Partners may provide the strategic alliance with resources such as products, distribution channels, manufacturing capability, project funding, capital equipment, knowledge, expertise, or intellectual property. The alliance is a cooperation or collaboration which aims for a synergy where each partner hopes that the benefits from the alliance will be greater than those from individual efforts. The alliance often involves technology transfer (access to knowledge and expertise), economic specialization, shared expenses and shared risk.”