PMA Consulting, LLC

Don’t Fear the Alliance

by Patton McDowell

Patton McDowell, President

Patton McDowell, President

Nonprofits are understandably hesitant to seek out alliances, especially in this challenging economic time. However, we would argue that the benefits still far outweigh the concerns of organizations considering a collaboration.

Organizational leaders often fight the internal propensity to own everything, and to not share or collaborate. Nonprofits take the stand: “I’m too busy to deal with my own organization, much less tackle integration issues as well.”

While these concerns are valid, there are a number of advantages that should be considered.  One is the potential for cross-marketing and the promotional value that often gets overlooked. As most organizations lack the budget to advertise all they want, joining forces can help illustrate their cause to a broader audience.

In fact, we may be seeing a change in the landscape of how nonprofits work together while generating donor support. The reality is that alliances are becoming almost a requirement by many funders. Just as your organization is on alert to maximize donor dollars, funders are looking for ways to be more impactful with less available funding.

If you look to alliances in the for-profit world, companies like Taco Bell and Pepsi are teaming up for mutual benefits and profits – which is at the heart of the collaboration. Nonprofits should be no different when considering alliances.  Large, major organizations like universities and hospitals have an opportunity to not only build alliances, but lead in this regard.

Organizations that fear getting too close and possibly losing donors to the partner organization could very well be left scrambling and in a worse position down the road because they weren’t willing to help each other navigate this new path of alliance.