Collaboration between non-profits is essential to serving the community better in a more unified way. We who work or volunteer in non-profits all have fantastic intentions to love and serve the community, but sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot and limit our potential for impact by not working together on projects that fit within the scope of our individual missions.
This idea was solidified in my mind during a presentation Young Non-Profit Professionals Network hosted this month featuring a group of seasoned fundraisers from Lakeland University in Sheboygan. One of the fundraisers asserted that Sheboygan County has too many non-profits, and we need to work together to be effective. I balked at first at the statement that we have “too many” as if it is a bad thing that lots of people are wanting to help the community through various causes. Then I started to understand her point that when we are divided so much that we can’t effectively conquer the issues in our community, that’s a problem.
Freedom Cry has been committed to collaboration with other non-profits from the beginning, with our mission statement communicating this goal: working IN PARTNERSHIP with our community and others to break the cycle of human trafficking in Sheboygan County, WI through prevention and support resources. One example of how we collaborated with other organizations happened in June of 2017 when the Hope’s Hearts project was born. Freedom Cry reached out to the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Horizons4Girls, and the STARS program to collaborate on launching this project. It worked really well. The project got off to a great start and is still going strong a year later. To read more about Hope’s Hearts, please go to our website https://www.freedomcryinc.org/new-page-1/.
Another great Hope’s Hearts project collaboration was born a few weeks ago. I met the executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters Sheboygan as she presented to the Charitable Giving Committee at JOA of which I am a part. The director mentioned in her presentation that the organization likes to work together with other organizations to provide activities for their adult mentors to do with the youth they mentor, especially because male mentors feel less awkward out in public with children if they have a shared activity to do together. I immediately recognized this as a golden opportunity for Freedom Cry to collaborate with them, so after the meeting I connected the executive director with leaders at Freedom Cry and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center to see if we could have Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors and youth come to the Art Center to work on Hope’s Hearts together. To convince the executive director, I explained how Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Hope’s Hearts project have very similar missions to build up and encourage hurting youth. I communicated to them that we are all working toward a very similar goal but just coming at it from different angles. Mentoring at-risk (or better put at-hope) youth is ESSENTIAL to preventing human trafficking because traffickers prey on the vulnerability that comes from instability and trauma in a young person’s life. The executive director agreed to come and check out what we are doing with Hope’s Hearts to see what a collaboration with us would look like.
After reflecting on these successful collaborations, I’m even more inspired to keep looking for mission overlaps and collaboration opportunities as I’m out in the world networking with other non-profit leaders.