When social justice consultants work to support funders, generally one key goal is to engage a diverse group of stakeholders in achieving consensus in decision making. Very often, staff and board members are working in silos and focusing on their specific programs or program areas. There are many strategies consultants can employ to break down silos, and foster greater collaboration within a funder’s network. We introduce a few key steps below.
First, consultants should begin by performing an overall assessment in order to identify areas of overlap, potential partnerships, and opportunities for collective action. Next, consultants can seek out opportunities for both internal and external cross-teaming in order to leverage their unique resources and expertise. Cross-teaming can often lead to innovative solutions and increased impact. All these strategies can be integrated by strong facilitation skills.
When facilitating a coalition of multiple grantmaking organizations, consultants must encourage the strengthening of networks within the philanthropic sector in a region or on a specific issue. These collaborative structures can facilitate knowledge sharing, collective learning, and coordinated action on shared goals. Below are a few fundamental consulting practices that can be used to support clients in these endeavors:
To sum up, in order for funders and nonprofits to better collaborate, network, and share information, social justice consultants play an important intermediary role in facilitating, holding the space, and providing technical assistance. The act of breaking down silos and promoting collaboration, the philanthropic sector can increase its impact by addressing complex social challenges more effectively.
Converge has rich experience supporting philanthropic partners adopting participatory grantmaking practices. We provide Learning Community Design and Facilitation for both funders and nonprofit leaders. Our Power in Place© curriculum helps nonprofits align community-wide planning to center long-term efforts in shifting and building power, both at the organizational and community levels.