Philanthropic Collaborations - How Some Succeed, and Why Some Fail


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Researchers Alison Powell, Susan Wolf Ditkoff, and Fay Twersky have partaken in a collaboration literature review, which identified more than 125 major articles and reports by practitioners and academics.

The review shows knowledge gaps, particularly around the foundational questions of whether funders should pursue collaborative action, and what distinguishes failure from success.

To address these gaps, the researchers conducted a study of 10 relatively successful collaboratives, as well as a set of 15 that had faltered or failed, including collaboratives in which donors align funding against an agreed set of criteria, and excluded those whose core focus is learning together while pursuing individual funding goals.

The key finding of the research is under collaboratives can drive greater results when well executed compared to funders who generally believe they could achieve by working alone.

The research suggests the value stronger models can achieve, and provides guidance where collaboratives can better focus their grantmaking strategies and engage their grantees to achieve more impact.

The researchers dig deep into examining core areas that include organization funders, field builders, goal aligners, finding the right investment thesis, and gathering fundamental questions for funder collaboratives to ask themselves.

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