One of those principles is the power of partnership. No matter your role, it's essential you adopt the culture of collaboration. Walter Payton said it best:
"We are stronger together than we are alone."
Maximizing the use of a volunteer program and corporate relationships is one way you can strengthen your organization or program during these difficult times.
It's important, now more than ever, that we leverage human capital and align ourselves with companies and individuals that share similar goals to stabilize and maximize our organizations' impact during the pandemic. If your program is currently operating without using the power that is released through partnering with others that share your mission in the form of volunteers, this article is for you.
Even in the midst of the pandemic, there is still growing opportunities to collaborate. Implementing the Collective Impact approach will allow your organization to maximize resources by being intentional with developing and maintaining relationships that will result in having a greater impact on those you serve and the community at large.
The Collective Impact framework works toward encouraging a relationship amongst organizations and/or individuals with a common goal in order to promote social change. Those involved agree to having a shared vision, shared measurements, implementation of "mutually reinforcing" activities, and maintain close communication. In this framework, there is an organization, individual or group serving in the essential role of being the backbone to coordinate the initiative and keep goals aligned—an essential element to the successful implementation of the Collective Impact.
At L.O.V.E Our Youth, Inc., our organization has taken on the backbone role for various initiatives in our community. When coordinating our activities and/or events, we would work with another youth-serving organizations (yes, let's collaborate and not compete), a team of volunteers with a wide-range of expertise, and a group of businesses that all share a common goal of building our youth for the future. Continuing to use this model and serve as the backbone organization has allowed us to rise together to combat the challenges facing our community.
Take a moment and think about an event or activity your organization has hosted alone using only your internal resources. Now, think about that same event or activity with the engagement of others to support the initiative. Again, there is power in partnership.
When developing partnerships during the pandemic, remember to:
- Be open to virtual support. Through the pandemic, our organizations have had an increase of volunteers join us from around the world. As we adapted to delivering our programs virtually, we were able to utilize these volunteers and their expertise to support us in areas to include our operations, marketing, resource development, and program development.
- Ask for help. During this time, bringing on additional staff is not an option for many organizations. Define the areas your organization may need help in and make the ask! Consider posting your needs on an online volunteer recruitment site, work with your schools in the area or local workforce center to recruit interns.
- Remember your corporate friends. Work with your corporate sponsors' employee volunteer programs. We have benefited greatly from working with corporate organizations to encourage their staff to get involved with our organization.
As we all learn to adapt to the current climate, let's embrace the value of togetherness and, most of all, the power in partnership.
Lasheena Williams, MNM, CNP, is a 2017 NAA Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders honoree, and the Founder and Board Chair of L.O.V.E Our Youth, Inc., nonprofit organization encouraging youth to maximize their potential. Learn more about L.O.V.E Our Youth at www.loveouryouth.org.
Photo: L.O.V.E Our Youth's Toy Drive. Photo courtesy of L.O.V.E Our Youth, Inc.