Not too long ago, I wrote a post on my own blog asking if it was possible to have too much of a good thing. I was referencing to the ever expanding number of nonprofits and charities and the need for them to come together to make a bigger impact. Collaboration is definitely going to be a huge part of the future for the nonprofit sector, as it should be. And, of course, this will be a good thing for Gen Y. We love collaboration, and we’re good at it.
Nevertheless, I feel that I have been slowly seeing an over eagerness in my fellow Gen Y’ers when it comes to collaboration. It is important to make sure that you have a program or mission that is worth collaborating with before seeking partnerships and connections. We have to be willing to do the hard work, to get our hands dirty if you will. We can’t achieve results by just ‘collaborating for collaborating’s sake.” We need to make sure that we are actually doing and not just talking. There is value in the good ol’ fashioned way of having something to show for yourself before you ask others for support and approval. If two organizations that are doing good things come together, even more good things will be done through their work together. At the same time, if two organizations that aren’t really doing anything come together, not much will come from a partnership between the two. Collaboration is powerful when it is strategic, but like anything else if it is done poorly and prematurely, there won’t be any worthwhile results.
Young people love starting new initiatives, new programs, new networking and/or social groups. Being a co-founder of YNPN Detroit, I hear so many great ideas and visions. However, I think it is very important for us, as ‘young’ nonprofit professionals (I use quotations around the word ‘young’ because, really, these ideas are for everyone) not to skip the grassroots hard work of starting something before running to get partners. As a new chapter, our resources are limited. Resources will, of course, increase gradually in time, but until then, it is important that we are strategic about where those resources are being utilized. We need to make sure we are doing and not just talking.
To my fellow Gen Y Nonprofit Professionals, if you are working on a new initiative, a new program, a new group, etc…Stop and think to yourself: Why should such-and-such organization partner with us? What have we done to suggest that a partnership with us is worth their time? Also, stop and ask yourself: Are we spending more time talking about partnerships than we are actually doing anything?
We don’t want to create a sector of talkers instead of doers. Not to mention, if we want to gain the respect of the other generations that have already been working in the nonprofit sector, we have to make sure that we appear ready to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. We are a generation of idealists, positive thinkers, and motivated learners. These are all good things. Let them be our strength, and not our downfall!