Collaborative Failures

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Adalgisa Vergara
John Cole
Building Strategic Partnerships
December 6, 2012
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“Thou shalt collaborate” is just one of thousands of leading workshops that exist to make collaborations prosper. Although, it’s not one of Moses’ commandments, collaboration is a word being heard among many policymakers and philanthropists alike. For today’s nonprofits it gives them an opportunity to organize themselves differently so as to be able to grow even during the times of economic crisis. It makes sense for nonprofits to collaborate with each other, and with business as well as government organizations. While most collaborations and coalitions experience success, failure is also possible.  Obstacles may cause a collaboration to terminate at any stage of the collaboration continuum.  The rate of at which the termination happens varies according to the original time that was invested into the collaboration.  At the philanthropic stage, failure may prevent the coalition from beginning at all, or indicate that it was not started with all the right elements in place to ensure its continuation.   Coalitions that fail at the Implementation phase may have misjudged what was needed to address the goals they selected, or failed to develop the internal processes to manage the actual work that was to begin.  At the transitional phase, failure may result from the loss of momentum toward goals, loss of commitment by members or resources to sustain their collaborative effort.  In the integrative stage, the demise may occur because the work is no longer compelling or the participants are no longer as involved and there are no replacements available.
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