Collaboration Tools and Resources

Click on the image to download the powerpoint slides.

In our March 2011 23@4 we sped rapid-fire through a number of useful tools and resources for nonprofit collaboration. The repeated theme throughout the literature is relationships – creating, cultivating and sustaining. Check out the handouts for specific tools from the workbooks that bring the concepts of nonprofit collaboration into practice.

We’d like to thank our attendees for their feedback and listening.

So, why not go right to the source? Check out these great books on nonprofit collaboration – click on a book to go to the Allen County Public Library Catalog.

Nonprofit Collaboration
Selected Bibliography with Annotations

Collaboration: What Makes it Work. A review of research literature on factors influencing successful collaboration. 2nd Ed.
Mattessich, Paul W., et al.
303.34 M43C, 2001
Foundation Collection

Features The Wilder Collaboration Factors Inventory, this seminal work reviews and summarizes research on the factors that influence the success of collaboration, and gives practitioners a tool to apply that research. Take the Collaboration Factors Inventory online.

Collaboration Handbook: Creating, Sustaining, and Enjoying the Journey
Winer, Michael and Karen Ray
658.402 1994
Foundation Collection

Written for new collaborators and frequently referred to throughout the literature. Splits the collaboration process into four stages and walks the reader through each with sample sheets, “go slow signs,” and guidebooks.


The Nimble Collaboration: Fine-tuning Your Collaboration for Lasting Success
Ray, Karen
658.044 R21N 2002
Foundation Collection

Helps existing collaborations needing renewal and fine-tuning. Part I focuses on three R’s: Results, Relationship, Resilient structure; Part II applies them to two different collaboration scenarios (service integration and complex problem solving). Includes action steps for nimble collaboration and a formal governance agreement sample draft.

Meeting the Collaboration Challenge: Developing Strategic Alliances between Nonprofit Organizations and Businesses
The Drucker Foundation (now Leader to Leader Institute)
658.044 M47 2002
Foundation Collection

An easy to use workbook with fourteen worksheets, including:

  • Identify Other Businesses with Which Your Nonprofit Might Create Alliances
  • Design a Marketing Approach for Each Potential Alliance
  • Develop the Purpose and Fit Statement for Each Alliance
  • Review Your Nonprofit’s Portfolio of Alliances

Appendices include nonprofit policy considerations (values congruence, for example), the Seven C’s – (questions for your partners) and definitions.

The Nonprofit Mergers Workbook
Part I: The Leader’s Guide to Considering, Negotiating, and Executing a Merger

La Piana, David
658.16 2000

Nonprofits considering moving from collaboration to more strategic alliances will need to work through La Piana’s book. As a researcher and thought-leader in the field, much of the body of work on nonprofit collaboration can be attributed to La Piana.

Nonprofit Mergers & Alliances, 2nd Ed.
McLaughlin, Thomas A.
658.16 M45N, 2010
Foundation Collection

McLaughlin details for readers the reasons to collaborate, description of his C.O.R.E. model, a merger/alliance analysis framework, partner selection, structure choice analysis, and more on the process of both alliances and mergers.

Leading across Boundaries: Creating Collaborative Agencies in a Networked World
Linden, Russell M.
658.044 2010
Foundation Collection

Written after “Working Across Boundaries,” Linden focuses more on the “how” of collaboration, challenges leaders with new ways of working, and demonstrates that most serious unmet needs require collaborative efforts. The target audience is organization or collaboration leaders. Major themes include:

  • 7 Key ingredients for the Structure of Collaboration
  • Two needs: (1) to be competent (and respected as such) and (2) to belong, to connect to something larger than self
  • Four questions emerging from these needs:
    • Do I have something to contribute tthat is needed, recognized, and used by the team?
    • Are we working on a project that is important to me and my own organization?
    • Are we making progress; do we have a reasonable chance for success?
    • How will this project support or threaten any of my core needs or interests (or those of my home organization)?
  • A team member’s perception of positive answers to these questions moves people from me thinking to we thinking.
  • Collaboration as a strategy and skill set, a means to an end, not for everyone
  • A collaborative mindset is essential to success. Fears of loss of control, zero-sum assumptions, the desire for personal recognition and seeking tidy answers to messy problems are each “hurdles” of the mind that affect collaboration.
  • Collaboration can be led from the middle, but requires senior leadership to create a collaborative culture.

Working across Boundaries: Making Collaboration Work in Government and Nonprofit Organizations
Linden, Russell M.
361.70681 2002
Foundation Collection

Written after the reflection that collaboration is necessary, that key leaders recognize this necessity and that regardless of these facts, it is still talked about far more often than implemented. Linden offers this book to help practitioners deal with obstacles to and learn strategies for collaboration. Split into three parts, the book gives background information on collaboration; a framework to apply; and leadership concerns.

Readers can expect many stories based on Linden’s experience in government and organizational collaboration. For example, in the section titled, “Forming open, trusting relationships among the principals,” Linden tells the story of creating “chowder lunches” to create time and space for a strong collaboration relationship to grow (101-102).

The Power of Collaborative Solutions: Six Principles and Effective Tools for Building Healthy Communities
Wolff, Tom
307.14 W83P 2010
Foundation Collection

Based on his extensive experience creating coalitions, Wolff gives readers an overview of our failing systems and even breaks down how they fail. Going on to offer pro-active, positive solutions to each of these failings, readers are left with a roadmap for social change coalitions – rather than social service collaborations. The Six Principles are:

1.     Encourage true collaboration as the form of exchange.
2.     Engage the full diversity of the community especially those most directly affected.
3.     Practice democracy and promote active citizenship and empowerment.
4.     Employ an ecological approach that builds on community strengths.
5.     Take action by addressing issues of social change and power on the basis of a common vision.
6.     Engage spirituality as your compass for social change. Use appreciation, interdependence, acceptance and compassion to align goals with the process of social change efforts.

Eleven online password-protected worksheets available with the book.

Tom Wolff’s additional free online Tools for Healthy Communities

– Lettie

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