The New Wave In Philanthropy: Collaborative Fundraising

When it comes to reaching goals in the non-profit space, a partnership may well be what you need to overcome hurdles.

Collaboration has long been a buzzword in the business sector. Major brands have cottoned onto the idea that businesses who share a vision or goal can come together to raise more funds (and, often, build a greater reputation), than they could on their own. Coca-Cola Enterprises and the British firm, ECO plastics, collaborated to run a recycling plant in Lincolnshire. A team of engineers from Mercedes-Benz, teamed up with Facebook to develop an application that enables drivers to access Facebook from their car. And one only needs to look at the onslaught of numerous collaboration tools, such as Yammer, Slack or Ginger, to understand that the working world is geared to bring people together for success. But, collaboration hasn’t quite made its way into the non-profit space.

According to the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR), the expected wave of mergers between non-profits never happened, “whether because of differences in mission, approach, operations, or leadership personalities, most charities continued on their own,” they said. But that seems like it’s about to change… as the new trend in the philanthropic space is Collaborating Fundraising; non-profits working together to leverage their strengths and accomplish something neither organisation could achieve on its own.

How do non-profits collaborate? Sometimes, a collaboration is purely practical. Organisations without heaps of steady cash-flow, like a charity, are coming together to share office space, hardware and software, staff costs or HR and finance departments. Sharing these hard costs is a lot easier on an organisation’s bottom line. Then, of course, there’s the sharing of donor data – allowing for a much larger net to be cast when it comes to collecting financial support. “Through collaboration, they can expose their organisations to new potential donors and supporters, and experience heightened public awareness around their mission and work,” says SSIR.

There’s also the added benefit of reputation management. If an organisation that perhaps doesn’t have a large pool of donors wanting to support them – perhaps they’re the new kid on the block, or haven’t managed to build up a strong reputation yet – collaborating with a bigger, more well-known organisation can catapult them further into the space.

And, there’s no denying that organisations that team up will most likely have a wider reach in terms of what they are able to get done in the community – especially if they share a geographical location. For example, if a non-profit who focuses on offering clean water to a particular area teams up with a feeding scheme in the same area, they will be able to share resources to deliver more to their community.

It’s an idea that’s gaining traction in the non-profit space – especially among the new-age philanthropists, who are even seeing more need for a collaborative effort within the organisation’s structure. “New generations are… saying they want to see philanthropy be more transparent, democratised and relational. They want organisations to move away from rigid hierarchical structures towards ecosystem models with more collaborative and fluid structures. Some non-profits, for example, are tearing down the walls between the fundraising, communications, marketing and program departments to make them collaborative and complementary, not siloed,” writes Cynthia Gibson on Inside Philanthropy.

While collaborative fundraising sounds like a match made in heaven, there are a few pitfalls that fundraising organisations need to watch out for. For one, pick your collaborator with care. “Choose your partner wisely and your collective momentum will propel you both to new heights,” says Arroyo Fundraising Fluency, “Choose a weaker partner that brings along a problematic reputation or issues with staffing, management or other challenges, and all of a sudden their problems become your problems.” It’s all about being able to trust the people you work with – which can take time to build. Your donors are also going to want to feel comfortable with the partnership, so you need to ensure you have similar values when it comes to how you treat them.

Each organisation will also need to be clear about what roles and resources they bring to the table. Partnering with organisations that already house what you have will lead to conflict over responsibilities. Also, if one organisation is benefitting more, they could be seen to be riding on the coattails of the other. This is difficult to work out without having worked with your potential partner before. “Most successful joint fundraising projects I’ve seen involve organisations that already know each other well—the good, the bad, and the ugly—and have learned to navigate them all,” writes Arroyo.

Locally, The Philanthropic Collection – a social enterprise that showcases The CEO SleepOut Event as one of its larger projects – believes in the concept of collaboration. On the one hand, it works closely with a team of staff from various backgrounds, with various skills, that they may not have in-house, in order to create the Event, but they also collaborate extensively with brands. Sometimes, the brands are looking for an organisation to aid their CSI spend strategies, and the Event can make good use of their funding, or the brand and Event work together to have greater reach, by relying on the combined pull of each others’ reputations. The CEO SleepOut Event itself also promotes collaboration between the private sector and government. “Private / public collaboration is part of my everyday work, and I can see the benefits of private sector holding hands with government for greater good,” says Howard Rawlings, Executive Head of Steyn City Properties, and 2016 CEO SleepOut Participant.

If you aren’t managing to meet your organisation’s goals, a collaboration may well be in order. Just make sure you’ve agreed on the boundaries, before you get into bed together.

– By The Philanthropic Collection –


The Philanthropic Collection™ is a boutique social enterprise,
where we tailor haute-couture brands for philanthropy.


Our appliqué is made up of global leaders, influencers and forecasters,
all creating conscious capital for humanity.