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Strategic Alliances

Strategic alliances can take many forms, including both informal arrangements for sharing information and resources, strengthening policy initiatives, and increasing operational efficiency, as well as more formal arrangements such as joint ventures, partnerships, consolidations, or mergers with nonprofit and for-profit entities. Informal and formal alliances can help to strengthen individual nonprofit capacity and the capacity of the sector as a whole. Nonprofits should seriously assess strategic alliances with public, private, and charitable organizations for viability and risk prior to engaging in an alliance. Nonprofits should initiate and promote cooperation and coordination whenever feasible to maximize the resources available to the communities they serve.
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Resource Format
 Staff Recommended
5 Tips for Nonprofit Collaborations
This article outlines issues to consider when entering into collaborations with other organizations.
A Common Sense
Warren Cook and Bo Norris, with Jennifer Boes
An article on the ways Maine thought leaders are working to drive widespread social, environmental and economic change through collaboration.
Advancing Together: The Role of the Nonprofit Board in Successful Strategic Alliances
Stern International Consulting
Based on a past MANP SkillBuilder, this document provides an overview of the collaboration continuum, the opportunities and challenges of alliances, and guidance about the role of the board in creating effective partnerships.
Assessing Community Needs Toolkit
Community Toolbox
Extensive toolkit on assessing community need and developing collaboration.
Collaboration Effectiveness Assessment
Journal of Extension
This tool provides a framework for thinking about the aspects of effective collaboration.
Collaboration Hub
Foundation Center
Find resources on ways that nonprofits can collaborate to achieve their missions, such as through mergers, joint programming, and other forms of collaboration
Collective Impact
An in-depth article on collective impact, including the conditions necessary for success, and links to related to articles.
Community Collaboratives Toolbox
Assessment, Guide/Tool
This toolbox is based on extensive research of  cross-sector collaborations and communities that demonstrated needle-moving (+10%) change on a community-wide metric. This resource for local officials, nonprofit leaders, and other community leaders includes a detailed guide of key activities and resources for each stage of a collaborative's life cycle, as well as an assessment module to better understand whether a collaborative is prepared to move to the next stage. There are also tools on how to structure collaboratives most effectively and how to best generate meaningful community participation.
Conflict Resolution
Article/Blog, Video/Tutorial
While steps may be taken to prevent conflict, many relationships and organizations will encounter conflict at some stage. When handled well, conflict can be not only resolved, but channeled into creative, positive outcomes. The following resources will you help you prevent, resolve and transform conflict.
Connected Citizens: The Power, Peril and Potential of Networks
#netcitizens, Monitor Institute, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
This essay highlights groups that are creatively connecting citizens who are making a difference , explores how technology might impact public participation and leadership in the future, and  considers the role philanthropy can play in harnessing network-centric practices.
Emerging Partnerships: New Ways for a New World
Peter Drucker Foundation
A summary of key points and questions from the Drucker Foundation Emergin.
Evaluating Networks and Coalitions
Coalitions, networks, and collaborations offer the potential for greater collective impact - but how do you measure their effectiveness and impact? Evaluators have developed an array of approaches, frameworks, and tools to support both coalitions/networks and their funders. The following documents explore evaluation frameworks, challenges and opportunities.
Finding and Managing Consultants and Vendors
The following resources will help you find and manage consultants and vendors, whether for a defined project, or ongoing support. If you need a referral for support on fundraising, strategic planning, legal issues, accounting issues, meeting facilitation, technology, or any other outside support, start here. (Many of the consultants and vendors in the MANP Business Finder offer nonprofit rates.)
Group Power! Or Group Problems? Making Coalitions Work for You
M+R Research Labs
Best practices for building effective coalitions.
National database of nonprofit organizations with detailed organization information and IRS form 990. Post your nonprofit mission and achievements to increase your visibility. Make connections with other nonprofits.
How to Organize Alliances of Multiple Organizations
Stanford Social Innovation Review
This article identifies seven elements shared by highly effective multi-organization alliances.
IRS Charity Search
A tool that allows anyone to search for tax-exempt organizations and look up information about their federal tax status and filings, including whether an organization has had their tax-exempt status revoked.
Legal Considerations for Corporate Partnerships
Nonprofit Quarterly
A good overview of issues to consider before forming a partnership with a corporation, including whether the partnership would trigger UBIT (Unrelated Business Income Tax) liability or jeopardize your tax exempt status.
Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs)
Article/Blog, Sample/Template
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlines expectations and agreements for a formal partnership. These resources will help you with the process of vetting partnerships and crafting a clear agreement.
Needle-Moving Community Collaboratives
This report outlines the common characteristics of community collaboratives that are creating measurable change as identified and analyzed by the White House Council for Community Solutions.
Nonprofit Networking: The New Way to Grow
Harvard Business School
How can a nonprofit increase its social impact? This article outlines the power of strategic networks as an alternative to growing in size.
Partnering for Scale and Impact
Stanford Social Innovation Review
In this audio lecture, recorded at the Stanford Social Innovation Review
Questions to Ask Before Collaborating
This resource will help you identify key questions to pose and answer at the very beginning of a collaborative effort.
Strategic Analysis
Free Management Library
Information and resources regarding environmental scans and identifying SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats).
The 6 Ds of Needs Assessments
Community Solutions
A simple overview of the key questions to address during a community needs assessment.
The Collaboration Spectrum
Tamarack Institute
The word ‘collaboration’ can be interpreted in several ways. There is a continuum of different collaborative approaches. This tool outlines the spectrum and an exercise to help nonprofits identify where on the spectrum a project/opportunity may fall.
The Collaborative Map
The infographic below presents the range of ways that independent organizations can come together in pursuit of a shared goal and can help organizations orient and align purpose and expectations.
The Networked Nonprofit
Stanford Social Innovation Review
This article by Jane Wei-Skillern and Sonia Marciano argues that organizations should focus less on growing themselves and more on cultivating their networks.
The Tactics of Collaboration
Stanford Social Innovation Review
This article outlines four steps to operationalizing a strategic partnership.
Third Sector New England
Nonprofit management support organization providing events, publications, articles, and trainings.
Young Nonprofit Professionals Network
A nonprofit network geared towards strengthening the nonprofit sectors next generation of leaders.
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