HIP had been hired to coordinate our local community network - a grassroots umbrella organization that brought together many non-profit leaders in the community. All sectors were represented. As children and youth issues were a priority in our community, the Child and Youth Committee was established.
As a long-term believer in the power of collaboration - and having worked on many collaborative projects as part of my community development work - I was stunned to witness true collaboration at work when I attended my first-ever Child and Youth Committee meeting.
This Child and Youth Committee meeting aimed to determine how the community would collectively apply to the request for proposals for the $50,000 the United Way had to invest in our community.
Each agency brought their program proposals to the meeting and presented them to the other agencies in the room. The total for all grant requests was tallied at the end of the presentations. The community request exceeded the United Way’s budget by about $8000.
After pondering each of their proposals, several agency reps raised their hands and said, “I can do this for $2000 less. I’m confident I can find those dollars elsewhere.” Two offered to merge similar proposals and create a joint project. After 15-minutes of discussion, the group re-tallied the totals and were under the $50000 cap.
Throughout this exchange, I sat there listening, enthralled - my jaw dropping: here was true collaboration and cooperation at work. I was stunned and proud to have been sitting at the table with professionals so committed that the community's needs were put before their agency's needs. This is client-centred collaboration at its very best.
At the heart of many projects I worked on during my time with the Community Network, I was involved in daily collaborative conversations, yet the Child and Youth Committee's example showcases how putting personal and professional agendas aside can maximize community outcomes. I don't think it gets any better than this...
Do you have similar examples of when collaboration has emphasized community benefits over agency mandates? Please share them in the comments below.