Both government and foundation grantors hold collaboration and partnership in high esteem; they believe there's a cost savings in collaboration. While technically that still has to be proved, it is a cost savings to them since they are not funding two agencies to do similar projects or to address similar needs among identical populations.

Whenever possible, use information about your community to make collaborative links between and among organizations. Local funders know when you don't attempt to partner because they know pretty much everything that is going on in the community. State and national funders will know you aren't talking to others when they receive two RFP responses from the same geographic area. Politically, the worst thing your organization or employer can do is know that another agency in town is developing a project similar to yours and not extend a request for partnership.

When You Partner

In a section on collaborations and partners, if requested, provide a narrative that:

  • Lists the partners to the project

  • Provides a brief description of each partner's role in the project

  • Justifies the existence of the collaborative — why it was formed and “the beauty of it”

  • Names a lead agency and/or a fiscal agent: The fiscal agent is the only organization that will receive funds. It will then purchase or pay for services from the other members of the collaborative.

  • If appropriate, chronicles the history of collaboration between the organizations

  • Stating that the collaborative was formed to respond to an RFP requirement, even if it's true, is not a good idea. A collaborative should come together primarily to address a community issue, and only secondarily to seek grant funds to support its problem-solving efforts.

    What If There's No Partner?

    No partners or collaborators? Here's a short sample response from one such agency. Note that it addresses the need to coordinate services even though it does not directly partner with others:

    ABC collaborates with hundreds of area agencies to develop and/or deploy the assistance necessary in order to improve the lives of individuals and families in the target areas. ABC's role is to work with neighbors and community-based organizations to identify priority concerns and necessary remedial services, and to secure those services from the existing system rather than to duplicate what already exists. ABC also provides community outreach and public awareness in the target areas for the services provided by other agencies.

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