By Guest Blogger Dave Sternberg

The environment in the nonprofit sector has brought to life an issue that many of us have been espousing for a few years now…there may be too many nonprofit organizations.

This is not based on the total number reported by the IRS. It is based on the idea that many of us (and yes I am a consultant) have seen many organizations providing similar or the same services.

Don’t get me wrong…it is not for me to say who should exist and who should not. If a nonprofit can run effectively and efficiently and sustain itself then so be it. But let’s be honest, there are many that do not fall into this category and it is not because the people involved don’t care or don’t want to make a difference.

Simply put…it is because there are other organizations doing the same thing. More importantly they made it to market first (in many cases) and have a better profile. All the economists out there will call this market saturation.

So what is to be done?

Well depending upon who you ask…it may be time to collaborate.

Collaboration has numerous definitions. It may mean working together. It may mean that one organization absorbs the program of another. It may mean that one organization actually takes over another.

BUT before you leap…consider three key questions:

First question. Do we want to reach more people with our work and if we collaborate can we? If the answer is yes then proceed to question two.

Second question. What do we mean by collaboration? Is this work together with other nonprofits, be absorbed or be taken over? This is the time to consider the legal and organizational issues.

Third question. Who has to work through this emotionally? Staff, board, funders, those we serve? This is the big one. Often this is the show stopper. The hump we cannot get over. When struggling with this refer to question one.

Yeah, I can guess what you’re thinking…it is just not this easy. Well you’re right.  Just remember at the end of the day this is not about YOU!

So, what’s your view?

Want more resources?  Read “Understanding Collaboration Among Nonprofit Organizations and find resources at the Foundation Center.

Guest Blogger Dave Sternberg authored Fearless Fundraising for Nonprofit Boards, among the best sellers offered by BoardSource.   He is a member of the faculty at The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University’s Fund Raising School and a Senior Governance Consultant for BoardSource. He is the only person in America to hold a position with both organizations.  Since founding his consulting practice in 1996 he has counseled nonprofits from every sector and currently helps his clients reach the peak of efficiency in fundraising and board governance.

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The environment in the nonprofit sector has brought to life an issue that many of us have been
espousing for a few years now…there may be too many nonprofit organizations. 

This is not based on the total number reported by the IRS. It is based on the idea that many of us (and
yes I am a consultant) have seen many organizations providing similar or the same services.

Don’t get me wrong…it is not for me to say who should exist and who should not. If a nonprofit can run
effectively and efficiently and sustain itself then so be it. But let’s be honest, there are many that do
not fall into this category and it is not because the people involved don’t care or don’t want to make a
difference.

Simply put…it is because there are other organizations doing the same thing. More importantly they
made it to market first (in many cases) and have a better profile. All the economists out there will call
this market saturation.

So what is to be done?

Well depending upon who you ask…it may be time to collaborate.

Collaboration has numerous definitions. It may mean working together. It may mean that one
organization absorbs the program of another. It may mean that one organization actually takes over
another.

BUT before you leap…consider three key questions:

First question. Do we want to reach more people with our work and if we collaborate can we? If the
answer is yes then proceed to question two.

Second question. What do we mean by collaboration? Is this work together with other nonprofits, be
absorbed or be taken over? This is the time to consider the legal and organizational issues.

Third question. Who has to work through this emotionally? Staff, board, funders, those we serve? This
is the big one. Often this is the show stopper. The hump we cannot get over. When struggling with this
refer to question one.

Yeah, I can guess what you’re thinking…it is just not this easy. Well you’re right. Just remember at the
end of the day this is not about YOU!

So, what’s your view?

http://foundationcenter.org/gainknowledge/collaboration/

http://nvs.sagepub.com/content/34/3/340.short

(sites with info on collaboration)

Bio:

Dave authored Fearless Fundraising for Nonprofit Boards, among the best sellers
offered by BoardSource.

He is a member of the faculty at The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University’s Fund
Raising School and a Senior Governance Consultant for BoardSource. He is the only person in
America to hold a position with both organizations.

Since founding his consulting practice in 1996 he has counseled nonprofits from every
sector and currently helps his clients reach the peak of efficiency in fundraising and board
governance.