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WHO

Revolutionizing Nonprofit Impact Through Collaboration

We are a nationwide movement with one goal in mind: Helping nonprofits, large and small, get the help and support they need to collaborate. We are dedicated to bringing technical support and funding to nonprofits. From acquisitions and mergers to strategic partnerships and collaboration – we walk you through the entire journey.

We’re forging a future where joint efforts build nonprofit capacity.

Nonprofit leaders face enormous challenges. We get it. At SCN, we’ve seen organizations overcome obstacles by collaborating with other partners. It’s a unique strategic lever that requires imagination, innovation, time, trust, strategic thinking, and a rigorous due diligence process.

That’s what SCN brings to the table. We have access to targeted funding, field knowledge, and skilled advisors who can make an otherwise daunting strategic option seem accessible.

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Mission:

A national network committed to increasing philanthropic support of and investment in sustained collaboration as a meaningful form of nonprofit capacity building

Our Values:

Collaboration

Network members not only commit to funding nonprofit collaboration, but also centering this value in their work as pooled funds and in their participation in the national SCN

Nonprofit-Centered

Network members put the nonprofit at the center of their work; collaborations must be driven by nonprofits and not prescribed by funders

Impact First

Sustained collaborations should increase impact in a community rather than just solving a financial issue

Equity Lens

The Initiatives commit to centering equity in the work and being accountable for improving their practices with transparency

Confidentiality

Neutrality and confidentiality are crucial to allow honest explorations of issues

Resourcing Efforts

Initiatives support the costs of exploration and implementation as well as provide technical expertise and strategic thinking

Learning Orientation

Initiatives acknowledge that they don’t have all the answers and are learning from the experience as much as the nonprofits they support

Meet Our Funder Initiatives

The map below represents SCN-member funder collaboratives. In each of these regions, funders have come together to enable sustained collaboration as a strategic tool to strengthen capacity and maximize impact in the sector. Each fund serves to support and fund nonprofits wishing to explore or implement such collaborations.

891

Grants

$ 26 M

Disbursed

101

Funders

Looking for ways to support strategic alliances and restructuring in your community?

Here is our advice:

The best strategic partnerships are the ones where two or more organizations are coming together out of a sincere desire to work together. Use micro-grants to educate nonprofit leaders and boards about sustained collaboration.A small investment in education can help leaders understand their options rather than prescribing them.

Most collaborations require exploration and implementation funds, and most organizations do not experience major cost savings, at least in the short term. According to David LaPiana of LaPiana Consulting, “Despite conventional wisdom, mergers themselves do not generate revenue or reduce expenses. In the short term, they actually require new money for one time transactional and integration costs. Even in the long term, the act of merging itself did not lead to substantial cost savings for the vast majority of the mergers my firm has facilitated. Merged nonprofits can roll together annual audits, combine insurance programs, and consolidate staffs and boards. But they are also bigger and more complex and require more and better management—a cost that often exceeds the savings from combined operations.”

“The whole question of cost-savings is more nuanced than many people believe. In our experience, saving money is neither necessary nor sufficient motivation for collaboration.” – John MacIntosh, SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration

Any strategic alliance or restructuring requires trust and familiarity between organizational leaders, so one of the most powerful things foundations and other funders can do is to help nonprofit organizations and their leaders get to know each other. Use exploratory or planning grants to fund exploration. Integrated organizations often use these grants to support due diligence or pre-merger joint ventures. Shared service/programs used grants to fund feasibility analysis or low-risk pilot projects. In contrast, alliances/networks used these feasibility grants to develop a shared vision and explore whether management tensions would hinder progress.

One of the best things a funder can do to support strategic alliances and restructuring is to provide flexible cash grants that support the leaders as they explore options for strategic partnerships. Commit to long-term sustained collaboration. Integrated organizations require at least two rounds of funding. Shared service/programming and networks require funding at various inflection points and additional development capacity to become sustainable. Beyond grantmaking, funders should link nonprofits to a vetted database of technical assistance and consulting professionals. Finding specialists in strategic planning or HR development is simpler than finding consultants and legal counsel versed in sustained collaborations.

It’s important to demonstrate the power of working together and hold ourselves as funders accountable to the same values we promote with grantee partners.

“Foundations often expect grantees to partner and collaborate, as if it should be inherently embedded in how nonprofits operate. However, foundations do not always hold ourselves to the same expectations. Yet, collaboration done right among foundations can yield the same positive benefits. Leveraging our resources allows us to serve more and/or go deeper with those that we serve. We benefit and learn from other funders’ experience and expertise on the communities, nonprofits and issues we are facing. The collaborative can also spur greater creativity, diffuse risk and more effectively support field-wide learning.”- Joanna Jackson, Weingart Foundation