Are nonprofit clients involved in your collaborative vision?

“In its simplest form, collaborative solutions mean doing together what we cannot do apart,” asserts author Tom Wolff in his latest book, The Power of Collaborative Solutions.

Today’s complex social issues require the strength of many. Wolff’s Power of Collaborative Solutions is our new Page to Practice™ feature at CausePlanet and is a highly useful guide for nonprofit leaders who want to assemble an efficient and collective effort toward their causes.

Wolff leverages his 40-plus years of community problem solving to tackle each of the areas where we fail to collaborate and illustrates how to develop healthy partnerships through numerous case stories and examples.

Wolff has distilled effective problem solving into six essential principles we must follow as collaborating leaders. He shares extensive insight into winning coalitions as well as hard lessons learned from habitually troubled collaborations where resistance is fierce.

I asked Tom the following interview question about why community problem solving efforts fail. Here’s what he had to say:

CausePlanet: You discuss 11 different ways traditional community problem-solving methods fail. Which of these is the most common and why?

Wolff: Many of the dysfunctions in our helping system that I describe in the book happen way too often. The one I am most concerned about at this moment is the lack of connection of our coalition efforts with those most affected by the issue. In the book I emphasize the importance of engaging those most affected by the issue–sometimes called the grassroots communities. Depending on the focus of the work, this can mean youth, immigrants, communities of color, survivors of domestic violence, the LGBT community, etc. We cannot do authentic community work without their voices at the table as shared decision makers.

In my experience when we do not have them at the table we develop programs that are more likely to be ineffective. In my book I note the ones who succeed at engaging those most affected by the issue tell us consistently there are a series of efforts that we must make to adapt our practices so that the community can come to the table. These include: holding the meetings in the evenings, providing child care and transportation, feeding the group, providing translation services if needed, and even providing a stipend (a coupon for a local grocery store, etc.).

CausePlanet members: Learn more from Tom Wolff and register for our author interview with this collaboration expert. We’ll dive into his six essential collaboration principles, plus address more of the common failures to avoid. Mark your calendars for Thursday, August 22 at 11 a.m. CST. Register now for our July interview with nonprofit financial expert and coauthor, Richard Linzer.

Not a member yet? Learn more about our summary library and author interview schedule and archives.

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