This week I had the chance to attend a reception for participants of Maryland’s Day to Serve, and it highlighted something very important for me. The nonprofits partners of Day to Serve 2012 each spoke briefly about their work last year and their plans for this year, and made a point of talking about their cooperation and intertwined interests. They emphasized how they were able to work together to help each other while achieving their own goals.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, while working to improve the environment, started a model sustainable farm. This farm, in turn, produces food that they can provide to the community. On the Day to Serve, volunteers at the farm harvested food that was then donated to the Maryland Food Bank, where volunteers prepared it for distribution. Neither one needed the other to succeed in their work, but through their synergy these organizations created more good than they could have alone.
Daikon Kathryn’s Kloset, which I heard about for the first time here, spoke as being a nonprofit made explicitly for helping other nonprofits. Much like the Baltimore Community Toolbank, they exist to provide critical items to other nonprofits, so that they can serve their community. And while the Toolbank helps by loaning out items like shovels and power tools Kathryn’s Kloset helps by working with large manufactures who have usable products slated for the landfill, taking that as donations, and sending that to nonprofits in state, out of state, and even internationally. I even got to hear about them shipping a number of medical tables, donated by University of Maryland because they had upgraded to newer versions, to Senegal where doctors used them as work tables.
What this highlighted for me was the value of cooperation and synergy among organizations. Sometime we lose sight of how much benefit we can gain from working together. Oftentimes organizations (especially nonprofits) have very compatible goals, and can produce greater resources and public goodwill by seeking out connections like these. Don’t forget that you exist as part of a network of similar people and organizations, and that networking events can pay off more than with just new job leads.
What local companies could you work with to improve how you serve your constituency? What do you have to offer to others in your area?