One definition of an effective leader is someone who identifies a critical community need where an organization can make a difference by building partnerships based on its mission, innovation, and diversity. This creates sustainability if the partnerships are with outside groups.
Engaging outside groups provide a diversity of thought when everyone gathers to discuss the common challenge. Of course, the common challenge is to meet the community needs the leader identified. The diversity of thought creates new ways of seeing old problems. Seeing old problems in new ways is at the heart of the most innovative ideas.
The common desire to see the community need to be met provides a renewed source of energy and commitment. It also opens people us to listening to new ideas and new ways of working together.
The diversity of the groups will help ensure that the resulting programs remain relevant. Each group’s special interests and evolving interests will result in self-renewing programming.
The group discussion of the community problem will help shape internal programming. It will also help extend the benefits and outcomes as those programs connect to the other partners. As the partnership gains strength, the programming becomes seamless.
For many Christian schools, this is a significant change in their service delivery model. The current model for many schools is for the school to be an island of service unconnected to other service providers. This disconnect includes a gulf between the supporting congregation(s) and the school.
When there are a ministry and service connection between the school and its supporting congregation(s) there is strength and sustainability. Synergy helps increase cooperation and generosity. It also reduces competition for scarce resources.
The cooperative approach to solving a community need also helps everyone realize that today’s problems are system problems. From experience, we know that addressing a child’s problems requires changes to the whole family. However, the Christian school is seldom prepared to provide the depth of assistance necessary to make the family system changes needed to reinforce the child’s school experience.
With the help of the congregation(s) and community groups, it is possible to make changes in the family system. Those changes increase the long-term chances of success for the child. The increased value to the child and the family help to justify the tuition. The participation of the congregation(s) and community groups brings many benefits without increasing costs.
In some cases, the congregation(s) and community groups can reduce the school’s costs without incurring any costs. Their work can increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the school’s programming. As a result, it takes less time for the school’s programming to be effective. Less time can mean less cost for the school.
The additional links to the community provide an opportunity for the school to meet potential donors.
While the preceding uses a Christian school, it could just as easily be explained using a nonprofit.
Determine the community need that fits with your mission find the community partners who share your interest engage other groups in designing a solution to the community network with your partners to create a seamless process for changing the systems that are the source of the community need
There is an adage that goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go strong, go with others.” The number of nonprofits that are struggling is adequate proof that there is a need for new strength. With strength comes sustainability.
Are you interested in being the next nonprofit in your community to be strong?