How to Build and Sustain a Funder Collaborative

posted on: February 28, 2013

By Owen Dunn

When grantmakers unite, they can create bigger impacts than when they act alone. That is the theory, at least, behind California Civic Participation Funders, which launched in 2010.

Based on a full-length case study sponsored by the collaborative, Mary Manuel of the McKay Foundation recently provided an inside look in “Bolder Together: Collaboration to Strengthen Civic Engagement Capacity in California.” This discussion of lessons learned while designing the group’s framework is an important tool for anybody looking to build and sustain their own funder collaborative.

The members of California Civic Participation Funders work together in four regions of the state, and they are optimistic about their capacity for impact in those regions. The case study details a list of three qualities that pushed the collaborative in a positive direction and that should be considered by others when designing similar groups. Briefly, they are:

  1. Diversity – Make room at the table for foundations of all sizes and types.
  2. Commitment to Community Engagement – Learn about needs and conditions in the local regions you serve, and work with stakeholders to develop an action plan.
  3. Autonomy – Agree on a shared vision, but avoid the red tape involved with pooled resources. Instead, devise ways to coordinate while allowing members to manage their own grantmaking.

Read the full version of “Bolder Together: Collaboration to Strengthen Civic Engagement Capacity in California” to learn more about managing the risks and reaping the benefits of a funder collaborative.