Nonprofit dating game

fundraising, FUNdraising Good Times, nonprofit partnership, nonprofit collaboration, evaluationThe holiday mistletoe, love songs, and New Year’s Eve parties conjure up the allure – and the drama – of dating. Who are you dating? Who do you want to be dating? Who will you be dating in 2015? And, if you’re married, how will you reaffirm your marriage in 2015?

What does all this have to do with nonprofits and fundraising? Well, we want you to have a happy love life, and we want you to enjoy your nonprofit relationships, especially your partnerships and collaborations. While there is a lot of pressure this time of year to be in a relationship, that isn’t always the right thing for everybody. Healthy relationships are characterized by love and mutual respect. There’s also pressure for nonprofits to partner and collaborate, but as with people, it has to be a right fit.

The end of the year is a good time to reassess, recommit or plan for a mutually agreeable dissolution. Consider the following as you make your assessment: what were the objectives of the relationship when it began? Have the initial expectations been met? Did the relationship help your nonprofit increase revenue? Did it help reduce costs through joint purchasing or shared resources such as facilities, personnel, services, or joint fundraising? Were you able to allocate the time and personnel required for the collaboration to thrive, or did these relationships tax your organization in terms of time and money? Were they more of a distraction than a benefit? Were these relationships like a planned marriage, begun with the encouragement of a foundation or funder? Has a love grown? Or did mutual attraction ignite both parties from the beginning?

While mutually beneficial, well-managed partnerships and collaborations can put your nonprofit at the head of the class, those that are a burden or take your nonprofit off course should be reevaluated. You may not have formed the right relationship. Related to this, it is okay if you are not a part of a partnership or collaboration, especially if such a relationship isn’t in line with your vision or if a prospective partner just isn’t a match. Being in the wrong relationship can be more of a negative than a plus if all parties are not in sync.

Here are our thoughts. Aim for mutual benefit. Question your motives: is the partnership for show, or for real? What is the substance of the relationship? Do your collaborations help your organization meet its goals and bring its mission to life? What about the goals and mission of your collaborators? Has the relationship changed over time? Is the vision that brought you together one that continues to inspire all parties, or are you staying together “for the children” (i.e. for a funder)?

Whether your nonprofit is single, dating or married make the most of the coming year.

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

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