Working together in times of hardship

Ros 2015 short hairRos Rice
Executive Officer
Community Networks Aotearoa

This is a hard blog to write, but lately I have experienced examples in our amazing community sector, of how competition can destroy incredibly good and collaborative organisations.

Let’s not get this wrong.  Monopolies are not the best way to ensure that costs are kept down, and can allow organisations to get too comfortable in their mode of working without keeping up with what their client’s needs are.  Sometimes we all need a bit of a shake-up.  But in our sector’s case, it is our funding reliance on others that has forced us into this competitive model.

I have been researching how in the current world and in this kind of environment, we as not-for-profits can learn to survive each other as well as maintain our ethics and keep our friendships.

It seems to me that what we have to look for is our commonality.  We need to find how we can complement each other, rather than compete with each other.  Rather than trying to muscle in on each other’s contracts, can we look at where the gaps are, and how we can work with each other to provide a bigger, better and more inclusive option without undercutting each other?

Perhaps the area where we focus can combine with someone who fits in like a piece in a meccano set to make a new construction.  We don’t want to lose our focus on what we do best, and who we know best but maybe we have to say, “we fit here… and you fit there.  Is there a project or a way, our skills can combine to make things even better?”

I am not talking about losing our autonomy or stepping on the toes of our friends in another NGO.  I am talking about true collaborative friendships of trust and openness that benefit everyone.

Do you have unused or underutilized assets or capacities?  Is there a way those things can be hired out or shared with an organisation that struggles in those areas.  Everyone wins then.  Maybe even new areas will open up to you that had not been considered before.

What I do ask, is let’s try to have an unwritten code of conduct.

  • Let’s all support each other;
  • remember we’re in it together;
  • surviving at a cost to others is not success;
  • remember your friends, they’re there for the long haul
  • collaborative friendships of trust and openness are the path to a better future.

This blog has been contributed by a member of ComVoices

ComVoices  actively promotes the value that community sector organisations and their people, both paid and unpaid, add to New Zealand’s economic and social wellbeing through information, and political advocacy and dialogue.

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