Opinion/Todd Cohen on change – Teaming up is hard to do

By Todd Cohen

Charities need to get hitched.

Cleaning up social ills takes charities that can clean up their own shops and then link up with one another to improve and root out waste in programs that serve communities.

That means moving beyond empty talk about collaboration and actually taking the risks needed to make change happen.

Teamwork is hard work. It requires honesty about what charities, alone and combined, need to do to do a better job.

They must be willing to make tough decisions to end overlapping programs and back-office efforts, and streamline and improve services.

And they need to get past a narrow-minded focus on charity and truly reach out to business and government.

Working together also will not work unless charities carefully and honestly weigh the effectiveness and impact of their retooled and combined efforts, and continue to adjust how they work.

Charities can fall into the dangerous trap of believing their goal of fixing big social problems exempts them from the rules of the marketplace.

But charity is a business. To best meet market demand for services that address community needs, charities must run nimble enterprises and form interlocking networks that are more productive than charities working alone.

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