The Power of Partnerships
There’s a story in everything, even the way we sign emails. I used to be that person that signs every email with “Thanks!” as if every person deserved gratitude for reading to the end of my emails (to be fair, they probably did because I communicate best in the written word, which means they are often long-winded). Today, especially when writing emails to external contacts, I use “in partnership” to sign my emails. It’s something that I started doing a few years ago and it’s stuck with me. It’s stuck with me because I believe in the words “in partnership” to describe whatever we are trying to achieve, together. It’s not one-sided. It’s not transactional. It doesn’t imply we are finished or done. But rather, it’s a commitment to work on something – together – to get us to our shared end goal, whatever that is.
And today, I’m thinking about the power of partnerships as we think about our work in the nonprofit sector. At RevJen, we’re addressing leadership isolation and burnout, development talent turnover, and a lack of financial sustainability in the nonprofit sector. Each of these problems can be alleviated with partners – whether that be peers, other organizations, funders, referral partners, or the community at large. And we’re trying to do just that, one partnership at a time. We do it this way, because we know that the pathway to financial and talent sustainability in the nonprofit sector, will come through partnerships. Let me explain.
We have the privilege of enrolling nonprofit leaders in our programs that are designed to address these challenges. Often these conversations are emotional. It’s a relief to know that we have others to lean on, who understand us and what we are going through. The power of partnerships do more than just give us a fresh set of eyes, too. Partnerships can help us live longer. According to a study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, people who have strong connections with others at home and at work live longer. This is because having a partner can provide emotional support and reduce stress levels, which can lead to better health outcomes. Partnerships can help us achieve our goals. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people who had access to a supportive partner were more likely to achieve their goals than those who did not. This is because having a partner in any activity can provide motivation, accountability, and feedback, which can help us stay on track and make progress towards our goals. Partnerships can help us be more creative. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that people who worked in pairs were more creative than those who worked alone. This is because working with a partner can provide new perspectives and ideas, which can lead to more innovative solutions.
We see this in our work every day. Our peer groups support nonprofit executive leaders in addressing their most pressing challenges and our financial sustainability workshops help nonprofits reframe their approach to revenue, equipping them with the tools and skills to navigate the path to financial sustainability. When I meet with nonprofit leaders, they share that they hope to gain a community of peers through the process to help them feel less isolated. They need partners.
In talking with foundation leaders and philanthropists about their commitments to nonprofits, they want solutions to help support nonprofits beyond the check. In North Texas, we’ve partnered with foundations to provide scholarships to nonprofits to participate in RevJen’s programs. They pool their funds and want to support a vision of connecting nonprofit leaders to this work. They see the value in investing beyond the original grant, and the long-held traditions of the sector to minimize investment in their teams to maximize investment in impact, is actually having a reductive effect on impact. Here, the philanthropy community acknowledge this new thinking and seek to find someone who can deliver it. They need partners.
And when we work with organizations that connect us to nonprofit leaders or philanthropists to support our work, they speak to the need to go beyond their scope of work. They know they are limited on their own but can leverage partnerships to have a greater impact. They need partners.
When we look back at the problems we are trying to address – leadership isolation and burnout, development talent turnover, and a lack of financial sustainability in the nonprofit sector – we start to see that partnerships can help us mitigate those challenges and create solutions, together. We know we can be greater, together. Because together, our partnerships can unlock greater impact for the nonprofit sector. Partnerships unlock incredible opportunity, and I am grateful to every opportunity that this focus has given us, and so I sign off in this spirit.
Elizabeth is the Chief Revenue Officer at RevJen and has worked with nonprofits and philanthropy for close to 20 years in grantmaking, fundraising, and strategic support for nonprofits. Elizabeth’s work has supported international, national, and local nonprofits with growth, financial sustainability, and systems building.
Learn more about Elizabeth here.