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Data is not a prerequisite for collaboration— every day we see formal and informal projects across sectors where two (or more) organizations have joined together to work toward progress on a similar issue. My question for you is how often do you see a partnership between two entities and think: are they truly working toward the same goal? How do their two stories interweave?

I often see collaboration used effectively to work toward solutions for complex issues when available resources are scarce. However that circumstance alone is not enough to power effective collaboration that achieves the goals all parties set out to achieve. Collaboration needs to be rooted in data with clearly articulated goals and staff that can collect data connecting the dots for all parties and communicating out results. Then all stakeholders have the data needed to make informed decisions together, best utilizing their individual expertise and resources. The data helps to form the trust that is the glue to any successful collaborative effort.

Collaboration for me is about co-design. Everyone has to be bought into a shared goal and vision. To successfully moderate and gain buy-in from a diverse group of people, coming from different vantage points, requires me to engage all stakeholders and identify the threads we all agree on. This shared vision, pain, and progress aligns the group around a collective goal, and also encourages ownership across stakeholders. The collaborative project at this point holds the same level of priority and importance for each contributor, ensuring resources (including time) will be allocated to the effort of making progress toward these shared goals.

One crucial resource that is pivotal to the success of collaborative efforts: staff. I like to recognize the fact that when it comes to collaborative efforts, people always have other projects going on within their organizations. That means collaboration must be staffed with dedicated resources, weaving the network together through communication and connecting the dots. This communication must include the truth— whatever the data is telling us— so we maintain the trust needed to be successful in our collaborative effort. The data is needed to understand how we’re doing and where we may need to pivot— but without the trust to share this information among stakeholders to drive action, it is useless.

A big point I like to consider when thinking about the perspective of each stakeholder is that each contributor has a different stake in collaborative initiatives. The simple fact is that ground level organizations have more at stake than funders when taking part in collective projects— the risk is much higher. Understanding and acknowledging your role in different collaborative efforts can add additional layers of trust within the group, ultimately benefiting both the end result and the speed at which the project can be completed. No one organization wins given a specific outcome— all stakeholders win as they progress toward their shared vision. Funders should focus on the process of trust-building as one important outcome of the work, which allows other, more tangible outcomes to flourish.

Collaboration is the key behind the success of many initiatives I have been a part of in the past, and is the primary ingredient for success in a newer initiative: the Black Equity Collective.


More Information on the Black Equity Collective:


The Black Equity Collective is a community-public- private partnership with Black Equity as its central, unifying force. The primary focus of this ecosystem of funders and communities is strengthening the long- term capacity infrastructure of Black-led and Black- empowering social justice organizations in Southern California (Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire). As highlighted by the chief architect of the BEC Kaci Patterson earlier, a challenge this complex could not be solved without pooling the resources and expertise of local stakeholders, and the significance of this issue obvious when looking at the data.


The BEC was born out of the Black Equity Initiative (BEI) from work started in 2017. As quoted in a Guide for Pursuing Black Equity and Racial Justice in Philanthropic Initiatives and Governments Systems published by BEI: “Research, empirical data and anecdotal evidence are clear: racial injustice continues to serve as a destructive force in society...” The BEI was created by focusing on community-developed principles for Black Equity that can provide a guide and call to action for any funder or large organization looking to impact racial injustice. They were informed by BEI grantees over a 12 month period, and are:


Truth: Liberation requires an intentional and on- going analysis of the issues Black people face in Los Angeles that have been and continue to be rooted in systematic racism, and perpetuated through bias.


Strength: emerges from the capacity of Black people to mobilize their individual, collective and community assets.


Strategic Disruption: requires us to boldly confront conditions that perpetuate inequity, from narratives that justify racial difference, indignity and oppression to policies that reinforce the same.


Love: means trusting our wisdom, giving us credit for our ideas and contributions, and, facilitating avenues by which Black people can pursue self-and community care to heal from the trauma of systemic racism.


Post by UpMetrics Staff
September 23, 2021