“Let’s pool the funds and split them evenly.” I was surprised to hear these words while sitting around a conference table with the leadership of 10 different organizations. With many donors financially stressed and giving less, I expected Global Washington’s member organizations to begin competing for every dollar. However, this community is instead consistently choosing collaboration over competition.
These organizations are proving that the state of Washington is not only a hub for innovative global development work but also a model for a new approach to addressing global poverty that is collaboratively, effectively and holistically meeting the needs of the poor.
These 10 organizations that opted share donations were selected by Global Washington for their focus on women and girls and brought together to participate in a public relations and fundraising campaign called Stand for Girls. We thought perhaps the organizations would hesitate at the idea of asking their donors to give to a fund pool instead of directly to individual organizations. They could have vied with each other for primary exposure in the emails, posters, and advertising. We were pleasantly surprised when they enthusiastically embraced the idea collaborative promotion and even joint fundraising.
“Working together is what is so unique and exciting about this campaign,” organizational representatives insisted. “Some of us are focused on education. Others on women’s health. But we are all addressing crucial needs in the fight against poverty. We can’t do it alone. We need each other to make a real and lasting difference.”
Uniting nonprofit organizations has long been a challenge, with organizations existing in their own topical silos – doing quality work to alleviate poverty in their own spheres, but rarely talking to each other. Global Washington exists to break down the silos and is doing so by uniting members around a common mission: to make the world a more equitable and prosperous place. We are starting to see organizations come together across issue areas and even across sectors. Our members are nonprofits, universities, businesses, consultants, foundations and philanthropists and each has something unique and crucial to bring to the conversation.
The positive impact that this community is having on the world is impossible to measure. Washington organizations and social businesses are building schools, eradicating diseases, and providing jobs. And they are recognizing that to do this work effectively, they must share resources, coordinate effectively, and learn from each other.
At the end of Stand for Girls, participating organizations reported that the most beneficial aspect was not the funds raised, nor the promotional opportunities, but rather the opportunity to meet and work with nine other like-minded organizations. As this community seeks more ways to leverage resources through collaboration, we expect to see a greater reach, and a higher degree of excellence for these efforts to eradicate poverty and disease.
This blog is part of a series in recognition of the UN's International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, Oct. 17.