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March 11, 2009 / WRAG

Can you collaborate more?

By Tamara Lucas Copeland

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That’s a question that nonprofits say they hear frequently from grantmakers, particularly in the current environment. Some probably think, “If it’s so easy, why don’t funders do it more often?”

Well, we’re working on it. On Friday, March 6th, 40 CEOs of Washington Grantmakers member organizations sat down for a frank discussion. With most of their organizations’ assets having shrunk considerably, they spoke about how to accomplish more with less–how to work together to be more effective, more strategic and more efficient.

Those meetings usually happen at the program officer level, in WG’s Working Groups. On Friday, one attendee questioned why CEOs hadn’t met previously on the topic of collaboration. “Scarcity begets innovation” was the reply.

And it must. Our grantees are making major sacrifices to avoid cutting services; grantmakers are making changes to keep funds flowing. Some of these measures are not ideal and will not be sustainable. But others will be the time-saving, money-saving, and game-changing steps needed to improve philanthropy and the social sector in the long run.

Shortly after the election, Rahm Emanuel said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Washington Grantmakers CEOs are taking this idea to heart.

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