Are you tired of hearing you should collaborate? It’s understandable. As philanthropic leaders, it can sometimes feel like we’re told to collaborate as often as children on a playground are told to share. We get it. Enough already.

But what if someone told you to avoid collaboration if possible. Now I’ve got your attention, huh. That’s the warning given, in bright bold orange letters, in the opening pages of the Fund for Our Economic Future’s Collaboration Handbook. “Collaboration should only be pursued when it is absolutely necessary to achieve the desired change,” writes Chris Thompson, the handbook’s author. “Collaboration should never be the goal,” he goes on. “It is a means to the goal.”

And then, he says this: “But just because collaboration is needed doesn’t mean it is possible.”

I’ll let that sink in for a minute.

As the president and CEO of Stark Community Foundation, a long-time member of the Fund, I’m quite familiar with Chris’ musings on the value of collaborative, cross-sector work. Indeed, the Fund is the very epitome of a collaboration and a collaborator. But it wasn’t until I read the Fund’s Handbook that this oft-esoteric concept made real concrete sense. In it, Chris, former director of regional engagement at the Fund, shares the ins and outs, ups and downs of a decade-plus of collaboration experience, and distills how to know if the conditions are right for a collaboration to be possible, what is needed to make it successful, how to get it back on track if it steers off course, and, perhaps most importantly, how to evaluate if it’s working. There are checklists and techniques and how-to guides. And there’s also a whole website devoted to the handbook and its contents (though I highly encourage you to carry around a hard copy wherever you go).

Continue to the full post here.