The Imperative for Partnering with Purpose: Because people and communities face complex challenges and find convoluted, redundant systems of services and organizations to be discouraging, nonprofits must engage in meaningful, coordinated partnerships and networks.
As opposed to diluting their potential for impact across a diverse spectrum of programs or only influencing an isolated issue, organizations will address the complexity of opportunities and challenges through purposeful partnerships. They build diverse networks that span systems and sectors and revolve around shared visions and values.
Partnerships have purpose when they are characterized by:
- Consensus around the issues, solutions, and success metrics
- Shared interest and responsibility in co-creating solutions
- Alignment and accountability achieved through clear role definition and consistent data collection and sharing
- Diverse, coordinated activities directed by an action plan
- Continuous communication
High-impact organizations have expanded views that allow them to see themselves as part of a greater web of solutions. They build network capacity in addition to internal capacity and organize their work as a collaborative, evolving process, rather than something they can completely control internally.
High-impact organizations that partner with purpose think systemically about the challenges they seek to address, opportunities they want to pursue, and the corresponding partners that will help them generate resources beyond dollars and create change across systems. They pay attention to the quality of the partnership and relationship, recognizing that partnerships are often leveraged in different ways.
Partnering with Purpose: Youth Policy Institute
The Youth Policy Institute (YPI) in Los Angeles has secured all three of the White House’s neighborhood revitalization grants, Promise Neighborhood focused on education, Choice Neighborhood focused on housing, and the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Award focused on public safety. It is the only nonprofit in the country to receive all three grants, signifying its ability to showcase its effective programs, which currently involve over 100,000 youth and adults every year at more than 100 program sites and leverage partners at the local and national levels to achieve common outcomes.
The City of Los Angeles, with YPI as the lead implementation partner, was recently awarded a Promise Zone designation by President Barack Obama, providing additional tools to combat poverty. The Los Angeles Promise Zone is one of only three urban Promise Zones in the nation. Combined, YPI is working with over 80 community-based, private, and public partners to implement these place-based initiatives, which will have a profound impact on the quality of life for over 200,000 Los Angeles residents.