Posted by CDS|
By Dana McConnell, CDS Executive Director
In a free market society, competition is healthy. We need competing entities to keep supply and demand in check, protect consumers from price gouging, and offer alternatives in customer service experiences. This is capitalism at its best; it helps our economy to thrive.
But what about the non-profit realm? Does the community still thrive when charities compete? Well, yes and no.
Sometimes there is such a great need that one non-profit alone would not be able to keep up with demand. This situation only creates long waiting lists and very frustrated families. On the other hand, having multiple charities with similar missions creates a quandary for funders. There are limited resources available, and funders must make the tough decisions of where to donate, and when.
Non-profits have the unique opportunity to work together in creating community solutions for homelessness, hunger, and domestic violence. And funders are beginning to encourage this. Here we introduce the word collaboration, defined as “the action of working with someone to produce or create something.”
We have wonderful examples of this occurring in the upstate. The Chamber Non-Profit Alliance brings executive directors together once a month to network and discuss a range of topics. The United Way organizes focus group meetings for their mission-similar providers. The Greenville Partnership for Philanthropy connects grant makers of diverse backgrounds and experience to improve funding practices for positive, systematic change. Others that may be more familiar to readers are CU-ICAR, Ten at the Top, LiveWell Greenville, Upstate Transportation Coalition, Greenville CAN, and so many others.
The Center for Developmental Services (CDS) is also proud to be a collaboration. From our inception in 2000, we were formed out of an identified need by the GHS Children’s Hospital and the United Way to consolidate multiple service providers under one roof, making life simpler for families who have a child with a disability or developmental delay. In one location, children are offered screening, evaluation, educational, therapeutic, and support services through six different partner agencies. It is a great example of synergy where the combined partnership produces a greater result than the sum of each organization operating independently.
Even with all these services housed together, there are still areas where our families need additional help. We actively refer to other organizations that are specifically equipped to support the unique medical, educational, and social services required by an individual family’s situation. These may include specialized preschool, mental health, or transportation, among others.
Competition is required for a vibrant economy. However, it is through collaboration that our community thrives. Greenville, as well as the Upstate as a whole, has embraced the forward-thinking idea that solutions are generated through communication and working together. From corporate partnerships to non-profit coalitions, we are bridging ideas and creating action. So in the spirit of collaboration, let’s continue working together to produce something great.