Collaboration: zzzzz….I’ve probably lost you already. Just about every non-profit touts collaboration and many actually walk the talk. Complex global problems, such as millions of children hidden behind the walls of institutions, cry out for collaboration. Several non-profit organizations collaborate because it seems to be a noble thing to do, while others have well-defined needs for partners to fill gaps and enable them to fulfill their missions.
    Both Ends Believing falls into both camps.
    Let the corporate world compete. For Wall Street’s attention; for profits; for market share. It’s a zero-sum game. On the other hand, collaboration should be the hallmark of the non-profit world. A rising tide really does lift all boats. Why prioritize collaborating over competing? Because the cause is more important than any single organization.
    A financial institution I worked for years ago used the tagline “positive arrogance”, at least internally. Since I’ve been in the non-profit world for 13 years, I have a very different perspective – Organizational Humility – which is characterized by:
    • Diverting attention away from our organizations toward the cause, the plight of vulnerable children
    • Embracing opportunities to work behind the scenes
    • Recognizing that a community of non-profits focused on a shared objective, such as children in families, has much more clout than a lone ranger organization which seeks the spotlight
    • Prioritizing those who benefit from our services over the viability of our own organizations
    • Avoiding petty issues that divide and focusing instead on common ground
    • Exhibiting vulnerability in acknowledgement of the need for partners
    Both Ends Believing needs partners. We do one thing and we do it well. We provide, implement and support Children First Software, empowering federal government ministries in the developing world to give their children digital identities and set them on a path to a family.
    For BEB, collaboration begins with the foreign governments, specifically Central Authorities and Child Welfare Ministries. As we walk the implementation journey together, Children First Software becomes embedded in the daily work of the government. This ensures sustainability of the program, such that it will outlive our stay in the country. As countries mature in their understanding and deployment of CFS, we seek to become unnecessary. Seems like an odd objective, doesn’t it?
    Similar to most non-profits, BEB needs funding partners, as well as organizations that provide expertise, manpower and access to government officials in prospective countries. As an example, BEB sought for years to work in Guatemala and found we were beating our heads against the wall. At the same time, we enjoyed a trusted relationship with Orphan Outreach. They recently began a project with one of the government ministries and needed a sophisticated technology platform as a piece of the puzzle. They turned to BEB and now we are working in Guatemala. Partners collaborating for the benefit of vulnerable children.

    Questions for you:

    Is the cause more important than the livelihood of your organization?
    Is your organization characterized by humility?
    Are partners “nice to have” or “need to have”?
    Do you want to partner with Both Ends Believing?
    Today, we work in 6 countries. Children First Software could become the child welfare technology platform in over 50 countries. We have the technology solution and we have a team working to enhance it every single day. All we need are partners and lots of them! A lot of you!