Stronger Together: The Power of Funder Collaboration - 40 Years of Collaborative Funds in the New York Community Trust

Aug 15, 2016

You've heard the proverb: "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." For 40 years, The New York Community Trust has been figuring out how to effectively "go together." The Trust has been funding collaborative funds for the last 40 years. By joining forces, funders combine the resources of many to tackle larger agenda, tougher issues, or long-term challenges. The Trust's most substantial collaboration to date was the September 11th Fund, which pooled $534 million from two million individuals from all 50 states, and 150 countries. The Trust has been home to 20 other collaborative funds, distributing more than $119 million.  "Donor collaboration is on the rise because it meets many needs. By joining forces, funders leverage the resources of many to tackle larger agendas, tougher issues or long-term challenges," says Lorie Slutsky, president of The New York Community Trust. "Collaboration also provides philanthropists with an opportunity to get involved in areas in which they are not experts or take risks they might not assume on their own." To showcase the incredible work of its funder collaboratives, The Trust has launched the report "Stronger Together: The Power of Funder Collaboration." We discuss the innovative strategies of collaboration, and the lessons we've learned about working together to solve complex problems. When funders pool resources, anything is possible. 140 foundations and other collaborators made the City's public school system better for all students; led the fight against AIDS in New York City; and created affordable housing while strengthening organizations that support it.

  • Good relationships with city government can provide resources and direction.
  • Effective governance of a collaborative fund requires that no single member dominates the agenda.
  • Conflicts of interest should be checked at the door.
  • Funds need to evolve over time and adapt to changes in membership and in the field.
  • It is difficult to keep partners at the table without a strong nucleus of foundations willing to work collectively.
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