Smaller nonprofits more likely to partner

Nonprofit collaboration
Nonprofit collaboration

DURHAM, N.C. – Triangle nonprofits are more likely to want to collaborate with one another if they are smaller and serve one county only, and if the collaboration is smaller in scope and focus, a new survey says.

Among 140 nonprofits that participated in an online survey by Executive Service Corps of the Triangle that was emailed in June to 1,400 nonprofits in Durham, Chatham, Orange and Wake counties, nonprofits with smaller budgets and fewer resources were more interested in greater connectivity with other organizations than were larger nonprofits.

And nonprofits serving one country were more interested in collaboration than were organizations serving four counties, says the survey, which was conducted in partnership with the N.C. Center for Nonprofits.

Large-budget nonprofits were more concerned about sharing with potential associates, especially sharing client bases or needs, or both.

“Driven less by financial motivations, large nonprofits may be less interested in collaboration because they believe they have less to gain from partnerships and more to lose than small organizations,” the survey says.

Nearly half of nonprofits surveyed said they were interested in sharing activities such as development, projects, programs, services or advocacy.

Fewer were interested in sustained, structured activities, with only six percent, for example, interested in forming a new organization, 10 percent interested in merging to form a partner or subordinate relationship, and 14 percent interested in merging to a single integrated organization.

Sixty-five percent of nonprofits that share missions were interested in collaborating, compared to 34 percent that share a client base, 30 percent that share a general location, and 29 percent with a common mission area.

Advocacy groups were more interested in working with other advocacy groups with similar needs.

The survey found client base and location have little impact on nonprofits’ interests in collaboration.

Executive Service Corps of the Triangle plans in September to convene up to 60 executive directors or board chairs from nonprofits surveyed for a collaboration summit at the N.C. Museum of Art.

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