Exploring Success Factors of Government-Nonprofit Collaborations from the Nonprofit Perspective
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Purpose: Our society faces challenging and multifaceted issues that require the attention of the public and private sectors working together. Because of the significant advantages government and nonprofits stand to gain from collaborating, it is important to identify factors that contribute to successful collaboration. Nonprofit leaders play a central role in the success of government-nonprofit collaboration, and their perspectives on which aspects of collaboration lead to success, as well as which do not, are essential to improving cross-sector collaboration. Much of the literature on government-nonprofit collaboration neglects to systematically study the nonprofit perspective. This research begins to fill that gap. The purpose of this applied research project is to explore factors that contribute to the success of government-nonprofit collaboration from the perspective of nonprofit practitioners.
Methodology: Russell Linden's (2002) four stages of collaboration were used to construct four broad pillar questions: (1) Courtship, (2) Getting Serious, (3) Commitment, (4) and Leaving a Legacy. Furthermore, eight potential factors of successful government-nonprofit collaboration were identified in the scholarly literature: (1) communication and information sharing, (2) mission and goal setting, (3) trust and positive relationships, (4) leaders and authority, (5) flexibility, (6) clear guidelines and funding procedures, (7) accountability systems, and (8) honest feedback. These factors operationalized the broad pillar questions, forming the basis of sub-questions that guided the construction of an interview questionnaire. This questionnaire facilitated structured, in-depth, open-ended interviews of ten nonprofit leaders in Texas.
Findings: According to the interviewees, four of the eight factors identified in the literature were determined to be success factors for government-collaboration: (1) communication and information sharing, (2) trust and positive relationships, (3) leaders and authority, and (4) accountability systems. Whether or not the remaining four factors are important to the success of government-nonprofit collaboration remains unclear from findings of this applied research project.