Ep 263 | Setting Up Successful Collaborations

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Welcome to our latest episode where we dive deep into the power of collaboration! Teaming up with other groups can open doors to new opportunities and amplify your message, reaching hearts and minds far and wide. But it's not just about shaking hands and combining resources; it takes smart planning and strategic thinking to truly succeed. Today, we're excited to share some key tactics that will help you lay the groundwork for a fruitful partnership. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, these insights will guide you in creating alliances that not only last but also make a significant mark. So tune in as we explore how to join forces effectively and watch your impact soar!

What you'll learn:

→ How to determine if a potential partner is the right fit.
→ Tips for setting clear expectations and defining roles.
→ Best practices for communication and follow through.
→ Keys to ensuring a win-win outcome for all involved.

Want to skip ahead? Here are key takeaways:

[03:37] Consider Your Goals and Outcomes Before you decide to work with someone else, think about what you want to achieve. Ask yourself what the main purpose of this collaboration is. Also, it's important to know the least you're willing to accept from the partnership. This means setting a minimum standard or ‘threshold' for what success looks like to you.
[05:13] Talk Openly About Expectations When you start working with others, make sure everyone is clear about what they hope to get out of the collaboration. Discuss who will do what, how often you'll communicate, and how you'll handle sharing information. Being upfront about these things can help prevent misunderstandings later on.
[11:19] Assign Clear Leads for Tasks It's helpful to have specific people in charge of different parts of the project. This way, everyone knows who to go to with questions about a certain task. Breaking down the work into ‘streams' or groups of related tasks can make it easier to manage.
[12:55] Develop a Follow-Up Plan After your project is done, don't just walk away. Make a plan for how you'll check in with your partners. This keeps the relationship strong and shows that you value their contribution. Remember to express your gratitude to everyone involved. Saying thank you is a simple but powerful way to acknowledge their hard work.

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Is Your Nonprofit Ready for Collaboration?

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Full Transcript

Sami Bedell-Mulhern
Collaborations are great in theory, but I'm sure you've probably been a part of one or two that maybe didn't go the way that you wanted them to. You either you felt like you put in more effort than the other person or you just didn't reach your goals or any number of ways that it can kind of go sideways. But I still love a good collaboration. So this episode is going to give you some things to put into place before it starts. And while it's happening, so that you can make sure that everybody walks away feeling like it was a great experience and getting something out of it. We want these collaborations to be win win win all around. And it really starts with great communication. So that is our topic for today's episode. As we round up our whole month on collaborations. We've talked about collaborations big and small. And today, we're really going to focus on those collaborations that might be a little bit bigger, that might take a little bit more effort that might require a little bit more of your team or someone else's team. Before we get into it, though, this episode is brought to you by our June freebie, it's a quiz. Are you ready for collaborations? So after you listen to this episode, fill out that quiz and see where you are with your team so that you can start jumping into the right collaborations for you. What are the things that are going to help you move forward? Are you ready? What things do you need to put in place before you start to do these collaborations and away you go. So arm yourself with the information you need to make the right decisions, and make sure that you can make the most of these amazing collaborations to grow your awareness and impact for your organization. Let's get into the episode.

You're listening to the digital marketing therapy podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern. Each month we dive deep into a digital marketing or fundraising strategy that you can implement in your organization. Each week, you'll hear from guest experts, nonprofits, and myself on best practices, tips and resources to help you raise more money online and reach your organizational goals.

Sami Bedell-Mulhern
So as I mentioned in my intro collaborations can be fantastic. But they can also be super stressful. And so when we think about entering into these types of partnerships, we want to make sure that we have all our ducks in a row first, and that we have all of our ducks in a row with the partner that we're with. Now, these partners could be other nonprofit organizations, they could be other businesses. So maybe it's a business who wants to do a fundraiser on your behalf. And so they're gonna invite other people that you're required to put on the event. I've seen these range from smaller donor socials, like dinner hosted at someone's house to large fundraising events, like huge. So they can really vary in size. It could be an online educational Summit, it could be an in person event where you have several nonprofit organizations come together maybe for an adoption drive, and mix with for profit. Businesses like maybe it's a spay and neuter that, or a dog trainer, things like that. So they can be kind of a combination of all sorts of different things. They all come with a different set of workflow, they all come with a different set of needs. But at the end of the day, doing these collaborations is a great way to kind of bring everybody's audiences collectively together to increase impact, increase visibility and awareness, and make sure that people know who you are new people, and that people can engage and connect with you. So that is why I love a great collaboration.

But again, because there are so many moving parts that can go south, or people can walk away feeling a little bit frustrated. So before you get started into these collaborations, let's really think about, first of all, if you're the one kind of initiate, and you're creating the event, what are the goals that you're looking for? What would be an ideal partner? What types of skill set are you looking for? So maybe you want to run this event, and you know, your team is really, really good at one thing. So you want to find an organization that's like minded, or a partner that can help fill in the gaps for some of the places where maybe you don't have the staff or the expertise, right? We want to think about budget and financial, are we trying to get in front of new people so that we can connect with them in the long run? Or are we trying to raise a ton of money. For example, if you set up a fundraising event with a business entity partner, and they bring all their friends and you put all this work to put this event together, and you only walk away with $5,000. Now, I shouldn't say only because that's a good amount of money. But maybe your expectation for the time that you were putting into it was 20 or 30. And their expectation was we want 100 people to show up, and the organization could take it from there. Right? You might walk away feeling really disappointed. And your partner might walk away feeling elated, because maybe they had 125 people show up, right? So we really need to think about what the goals are and what are the parameters around who we will collaborate with and we want meaning, we have a minimum threshold for results that we're looking for if we're going to put on a certain type of event, and based off of the criteria, this is kind of what we'll what we'll do.

So I love this for all organizations to do on the front end to really think about what are their guidelines so that as your development team is out having conversations, if opportunities arise, they feel more armed to be able to say, Yeah, that sounds great. Or, you know, we just don't have the capacity to do that right now. Or maybe we want to find another partner to help us? Or would you be able to do this in order to allow us to do the work? Now, when an organization comes to you, and says, hey, we'd like to collaborate on this project? There's a different set of similar questions, right? What are the goals for the event? What are we looking to achieve? What is it that you need support with? What would be our expectations? You know, all of the things so, you know, that's when you really want to identify, is this partner, somebody that makes sense, is it going to be authentic to your audience, is their audience going to be somebody that's going to make sense for us to connect with right, all of these questions, and you can go back to what we just talked about your foundational pieces to see that it's a good fit. Once you determine that this is a good fit, this is an event that you want to do you want to move forward with, you really want to sit down and have some serious conversations, really around expectations, this is really where organizations I find, feel a little bit slighted, right? Maybe you feel like you put in way more work than the other person, or they didn't deliver on the things that they said they were gonna deliver, or you just have a lot of stress leading up to the execution of the collaboration because somebody didn't know or didn't do what they need to do. So I love to sit down first. And we're going to always say this outline the goal. So everybody is on the same page, is how much money we want to raise this is how many people we want to come this is how many contacts we hope to have this is I don't know, depending on your event, right? Come up with those specific goals for what your organization is going to do. You also really want to clearly define how the contacts will be shared. And this is important so that everybody's on the same page, but also so that you can clearly convey that to the people that are participating in the event. If there's a couple of different businesses that are there, and all of a sudden they start getting emails from some of these random businesses. That's not good for anybody. So we really want to be clear. Okay. Do we share every single person that registers for the event with all of the partners? What about the vendors? What about contracts? What information are we sharing? What information are we not sharing, you know, what is just something that we keep, because it's our contact, it's our whatever. And some of that may also come from your vendors. Right? If you have a special relationship with a couple of vendors, and they don't want you to share that exclusive pricing with anyone, that's totally fair. So you really want to be upfront and honest at the beginning about all of these things, so that there's not any stress about it later on. And then I'm going to break it into buckets, excuse me.

So buckets, meaning who is in charge of what parts of the event. Now, granted, both organizations might be participating in all of these other in supporting some of these buckets. But let's make sure that we have a clear point person. So who's in charge of the marketing and communications of the event, who's in charge of the graphic design or the graphic elements who's in charge of the logistics? Like the licenses, the location, who's in charge of the food and catering, right? Break it out however you want? And really make sure that you've got somebody in charge? Who's in charge of the financials, right? That's the big one who's going to reconcile the income and the expenses and provide a report? How are the monies being divided all of that good stuff, create those buckets, and create the lead person for those areas. And then you can kind of divvy up the tasks from there. I think that's really important, because it's a great way to kind of figure out if you're equally sharing the load. And then you know, there's nothing worse than having too many people making decisions. This is clear, especially when it comes to, let's say, corporate sponsorships or donor sponsors, or people that are getting a benefit from being at the event, right? If it's ticket sales, and if they sell a table, then the sponsor gets XYZ recognition, right? Sometimes you'll have a conversation with a sponsor, and they'll say, Well, yeah, I'd love to do that. But I want this or I want to do that. It's important to have one person you can go to quickly to make those decisions and you don't have your people out there all making different promises that you can't deliver. We don't want that for sure. So having those key buckets is key. And then still, you'd want to have one point person who is ultimately going to be overseeing the, basically committee for this event. And we don't need to have too many people involved. But I think that that's real really important. And maybe it's one person from each organization that's coming together to meet regularly to manage the committee to make sure that they're speaking on behalf of the organization and what they can and cannot do. Ultimately, remember that when you enter into a collaboration, this communication piece is huge. If you don't share what it is that you have as boundaries, then the other organization is just going to say, oh, yeah, can you do that? Can you do that? Can you do that? So you have to be really clear on this is what we have time and capacity to do based off of the goals of what we're saying we want to do here. And the hardest part is that when you get into a collaboration, there's always the one person or you people who want to make it bigger and grander, right? It could be a board, one of their board members or one of their volunteers. And it might be somebody that's not in your organization. And it could be somebody in your organization. But really, with this collaboration, even more so than ever, you need to be able to rein them in. And so this is a partnership, we don't have capacity to do this. If this is something that you really think is valuable, and you want to take it on, and you want to financially support this piece. Go for it. But I think having those goals in mind and those clear defined roles, really helps both sides to have that push and pull to be able to say, we can't really do this, or Yeah, I think that's a great idea. We have capacity for that.

There's always going to be ebbs and flows and collaborations, especially when it comes to events, some things go easier than you expect, some are harder. But we really want to make sure we go back to those goals, the vision and the mission for why we're doing this collaboration, and what it is that we hope to accomplish. And then really, the other big thing is making sure that you have a follow up plan. This is always important. We talked about this all the time. But if you don't have a follow up plan, and then the event is over, all of a sudden, everybody kind of disperses. And you'll go back to the priorities of your organization to your business, your day to day. This is especially true if you're partnering with a business because they're typically volunteering to help you put this together, they got to get back to their life, right. So make sure you have a follow up plan ahead of time, how are you going to talk about this collaboration and how it went? How are you going to shout out your partners? How are you going to share again, share the contact information? And especially how are we going to kind of stagger that communication? What does that look like? So people aren't getting bombarded with a bunch of text messages or phone calls and emails all after the event, the follow up piece becomes trickier because you have more parties involved. And we want to make sure that everybody is getting to use their voice. So pay attention to the follow up and make sure that's part of your plan from the very beginning. And then really just make sure you're a good human, if you're in charge of the financial or you're in charge of, you know the vendor agreements, communicate, share and do things on a timely fashion. I love a good collaboration. And some of the best ones continue on for years. And you can create traditions here and have fun with it and have fun events with it.

If you're partnering with a business for a fundraising event, by being a good partner, you're likely that they'll choose you again. And if it's a great success, you want that right, it's getting you in front of new audiences that you don't have the opportunity to talk to necessarily. So go out and get those collabs be good partners, and be the leader to show the communication and the organization that comes along with it to make it a smooth and easy process so that there's more collaborations to come. I love this as a marketing tactic. I love this as an engagement tactic. And I think that it can be really great to help you hit those goals. And more importantly, get more awareness out in the community community about who you are and the great work that you do. So if you're going to do a collaboration, or you have an event coming up, I'd love to see it, hear about it, learn about it. I have a few of my sleeves with some clients that we might be sharing here on the podcast, but you can email those to me at hello at the first click dotnet. For now, thanks for listening to this short solo episode. I'm so grateful that you've joined us for this whole week of collaboration, our whole month of collaboration. I hope that you have enjoyed it. You can find the show notes resources and the other episodes from this month in the show notes at thefirstclick.net/263 But I thank you so much for listening and make sure you hit that subscribe button. We have new episodes coming out every Tuesday and I don't want you to miss a single one. And would you do me a favor while you're there? Grab the link, share it with a friend that you know could use a good collaboration. Maybe start the conversation about collaborating together yourself. Okay, I'll see you in the next one.

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