Does The Social Sector Collaborate Effectively Enough?”

non-profit sector plays a significant role in our individual and
collective well-being.
One thought is
In order to sustain this important work and achieve greater success
in outcomes, organizations are finding innovative and more
intentional ways of working and working together.
others feel
-There is an interest and need
for organizations to collaborate, but yet organisations prefer to
work in isolation often re-inventing the wheel.

social change requires broad cross-sector coordination, yet the
social sector remains focused on the isolated intervention of
individual organizations. What are your views??

in its new avatar will be three years old next year. Our objective is
to provide a high level of transparency in the social sector through
detailed analysis of NGO financial statements thereby encouraging
informed philanthropy. No other organization does this in India. So
lots of scope for collaboration right? This is the social sector;
profit making is not the motive, the only aim is public good. If a
new skill set (financial analysis) can provide greater comfort to
donors resulting in higher funds raised, this would help the sector,
thought so too. However, the reality has been different. When we
reached out to existing enablers in the social sector, we were
largely ignored, with a few notable exceptions – Centre for
Advancement of Philanthropy, Deshpande Foundation, Sanjay Patra,
Sanjay Agarwal. Common experiences included empty promises to meet or
ignoring our emails. Fortunately, operating NGOs have been largely
enthusiastic, despite being jaded by many organisations, which take
registration fees but are unable to deliver on the commitment of
attracting significant funds. 
is there reluctance to collaborate, we wonder? Perhaps, the social
sector is run like a business. Nothing wrong in that, they need funds
to sustain, but some collaboration would help the space as a whole.
Is it suspicion of an unknown new entity or the need to guard their
turf? Are some philanthropists driven by recognition that may get
diluted if they joined hands with newcomers? I am still looking for
the answer and hoping for more collaboration. 
are too many people and too many NGOs following similar paths. Using
the internet to multiply outcomes and impact is the way forward.

Mahtani, CEO,
HelpYourNGO Foundation
services include validating/standardizing NGO financials to provide
comfort to donors when making donation decisions; and customized CSR
and volunteering solutions.)

social sector is invested in impact and benefit to the world to
increase effectiveness. Whilst collaboration is desired to achieve
these goals, the social sector has not yet agreed on what it entails.
With individuals and organisations beginning to share and learn
together, we think about what effective collaboration looks like and
how one would measure this.

a vision of collaboration in the social sector would help us all to
agree on how we would like to interact, learn and support each other
towards the common goal of an egalitarian and democratic society.
individuals we currently seek opportunities to collaborate with known
organisations, trusted referrals and with those who are easy to
connect with face to face or virtually. This sense of security with
those known to us helps to interact openly and share experiences that
help each of us to grow in our knowledge, skills and attitudes that
can impact the work that we do.
diversity of India allows the social sector to focus efforts in
particular contexts and programmes that target a specific sector or
community. Whilst we may master growth in our own fields, how do we
contribute to a cohesive social sector approach to development?
a vision by including representatives from across the social sector
would help us generate a consensus on what effective collaboration
looks like. This is essential in firstly identifying our
effectiveness and building the roadmap towards greater collaboration.

Modi, Programmes Lead, Adhyayan
(Adhyayan is an
education movement of Indian and international educationists,
dedicated to improving the quality of leadership and learning in

Collaborations in the
social sector can be tricky; most organisations have chosen the route
to do it alone. However, there has been change that is fairly visible
with organisations finding a common purpose and achieve the final
result, which, in most cases has been the same.
The collaborations that
normally sees are the more direct, NPOs – Corporate entities, NPOs
and intermediaries and NPOs – NPOs. Corporate entities are actively
working with their investees or NPO partners to develop solutions
together and in doing so have developed better problem solving
solutions. An integrated approach fostered by collaborating on the
ideals and goals does lead to enhanced social development impact.
There are a few that I
have come across through our work where NPOs running a health program
and an education program have come together, a health intervention
with a recreational life skills development program. The
collaboration between Leap for Word and Manitham Charitable Trust,
both of which are investees of the Edelgive Foundation is an example
that demonstrates the same. Communities are able to benefit from
these collaborations, which allow for multiple interventions aimed at
a particular group that brings in an overall development of a
particular community. Collaborations allow for number of local
collaboration partners who understand the nuances of local
Balaji, CEO, Toolbox India
(Toolbox India offers
pro bono consult to NGO’s providing them with Coaching and expertise
tailored to the requirements and the programs of each NGO.)
is the key. Be it business or non-profits. At our Vision Foundation
we focus on identifying relevant resources, collaborate with them and
thereafter harness these resources for better social impact. The
social sector would defeat the purpose of “social betterment” if
it chooses to work in silos. Our stakeholders range from patients,
surgeons, charitable hospitals, State Government departments, Law &
Judiciary and Technology experts from various fields. Despite critics
who thought otherwise, our collaborative model of sight restoration
and life restoration worked very well. Both, direct services as well
as the advocacy efforts work on a collaborative model.
service based organisation usually rolls out benefits (for
beneficiaries) and prefers to work in isolation while an NGO with a
“rights based” approach collaborates and connects with every
stakeholder in order to have wider reach. While working in isolation
maybe easier for an organization, collaboration requires tremendous
negotiation / mitigation skills, clarity of thought along with
sincere zeal for dispute resolution.
today several non-profits choose to work in isolation. They will
eventually become outdated and irrelevant to society. Their existence
will be challenged by changes in life styles, technology and an
evolving society. Collaboration on the other hand will enhance
learning, widen horizons and expand the scope of work. Collaboration
also exposes individuals and institutions to innovations in a domain
which eventually help in achieving goals much sooner than projected.
While non-profits do actively collaborate, much more needs to be

Ghaswala, Founder & CEO, Ghaswala Vision Foundation
Vision Foundation supports various activities related to eye care and
blindness in general but the main focus of the foundation is to fight
corneal blindness.)
This article is from CAP’s Quarterly newsmagazine Philanthropy. To get your printed version of the magazine, write to

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