Improving economic and social mobility in our communities is complex work and cannot happen in a vacuum. As the philanthropic sector continues to grapple with the best way to address these layered challenges, the default is often a siloed approach that provides restricted programmatic support to generate outputs rather than a broader collaborative approach to achieving community-level impact at scale.
In partnership with StriveTogether, Nonprofit Finance Fund has released information on how to fund place-based partnerships—a coordinated network of people, organizations and efforts across the same geographic community committed to achieving results. Place-based partnerships provide the critical mass needed to support systems change, mobilizing resources and thought leadership to forge solutions around shared missions and values.
Philanthropy today can play a critical role in rebuilding education, health care, housing, employment and more by providing significant, long-term and flexible support to place-based partnerships. The article identifies two key considerations when funding this work.
- Eliminate silos.
Place-based partners cannot work alone to solve community-level challenges. It takes a concentrated effort to create the infrastructure where large-scale change can occur, and this dynamic can only be achieved by having multiple stakeholders at the table, from government to business to faith-based organizations, philanthropy and more.
- Embrace flexibility.
Funding focused only on measuring outputs tied to the services their grantees provide forces a narrowed perspective, as one organization alone isn’t responsible for broad community-level change. Flexible, unrestricted investments into partnerships who lead community-wide efforts provide agency to address the complex needs of the individuals and families these organizations support.
Collectively, it is the place-based partners who are using data, moving resources and lifting up solutions in their communities in a coordinated way to support civic infrastructure. When place-based partnerships have the adequate resources to work together, persistent disparities can be identified and dismantled, equipping an infrastructure of leaders mobilizing against inequitable system and promoting social healing and transformative change.
The main question philanthropy needs to be asking itself now is how to reimagine funding portfolios to better recognize the collaborative approaches our place-based partners thrive in. When national funders support this work, they are not only giving communities the freedom to maximize results, but they are legitimizing a community’s civic infrastructure through an amplified platform for collaboration and voice.
Intentionally investing in the cross-sector and cross-functional work of place-based partnerships is key to building an ecosystem free of silos, where philanthropy, business and government can accelerate positive social change. Learn how place-based partnerships can improve communities in this toolkit from the Nonprofit Finance Fund.