Moving Toward More Effective Collaborations in Philanthropy




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Nov 16, 2018
by Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu
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Moving Toward More Effective Collaborations in Philanthropy

Salzburg Global Fellows offer their thoughts on how philanthropic organizations can work together better Photo by rawpixel on Pixabay
“You can definitely not stay in your solitary corner and do a great job,” says Vincent Faber. Reaffirming his view with a well-known proverb, he says, “If you want to go quickly, go alone but if you want to go far, go together.”
Faber, the executive director of Trafigura Foundation, was one of 40 participants at the latest program of Salzburg Global Seminar’s Philanthropy and Social Investment multi-year series - New Horizons in Social Investment: Global Exchange for Action and Impact. This program was held in partnership with the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network and took place at Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg, Austria from October 27 to October 30, 2018.
Collaboration was the subject on one of the panel discussions at this year’s program. While there was consensus about the importance of working together, there was also a recognition of how difficult this can be sometimes. Salzburg Global asked some of the participants for their reflections on the importance of collaboration in the philanthropic sector and for tips on how foundations could work together effectively.

“Collaborating is hard and it takes a lot of effort,” says Heather Grady, vice president at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. “I think the key to collaboration is mutual respect and each side thinking ‘I am going to spend some time on this because I will get something in return,’ she adds.

“We say that the network is as strong as its weakest partner,” says Ludwig Forrest who is the philanthropy advisor at the King Baudouin Foundation in Brussels. Forrest is responsible for coordinating the Transnational Giving Europe Network, which is a collaboration of 20 philanthropic organizations across Europe. Forrest says, “You can imagine how difficult this can be especially with organizations of different sizes, maturities and means.”

Faber’s tip for effective collaboration hinges on “trust.” Faber says, “I have seen too many prejudices and mistrusts being [put] in the way of success. And how do you get trust? By dialogue - by just speaking to each other, by just being open about your objectives, purpose, what you do, how you do it, [and] why you do it. Just put on the table what your agenda is, your modus operandi but also your philosophy in regards to the choices that you make - as a grant maker or grantee [that] is essential.”

Openness and clarity about the terms of any collaborative venture is among Grady and Forrest’s tips for achieving success. Organizations can’t placed themselves above one another. Forrest says, “We succeed together and we fail together as well.”.

Grady offers an expansive list of strategies to use when working with other organizations. She says: “Collaboration, I think fails sometimes because one side doesn’t get enough out of it so it ends up not being worth their effort... So, find potential collaborators who you are sure you can offer something to [because] they will want something from you… [and] put people in charge of the collaboration who are actually collaborative…”

The session New Horizons in Social Investment: Global Exchange for Action and Impact is part of Salzburg Global Seminar's multi-year series Philanthropy and Social Investment. This year’s session is held in partnership with the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network, a network committed to building a vibrant and high impact social investment community across Asia. To keep up to date with the conversations taking place during the session, follow #SGSphil on Twitter and Instagram.