Phelps A-Z: Model 3

Collaborative Map

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When it comes to running a successful community organization, collaboration is key.

Especially in rural areas with limited resources, the synergy that can be harnessed by multiple groups working together is far greater than what can be achieved working alone. The collaborative map helps your organization benefit in the different ways, organize outreach, target new partnerships, track major influencers, avoid service duplication and fill service gaps.

5 Ways

a collaborative map can help your community non-profit

When it comes to running a successful community organization, collaboration is key. Especially in rural areas with limited resources, the synergy that can be harnessed by multiple groups working together is far greater than what can be achieved working alone.

Phelps Helps has relied greatly on collaborative programs and initiatives since its founding. Even today, maintaining and expanding our network of allies is a top priority for the organization. One way we do this is by using a collaborative map.


 

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What’s a collaborative map?

A visual representation of essential collaborators your organization has tapped, a collaborative map helps keep track of who does what within your network as well as their relationship to you. Some collaborators are more important to your organization than others; a collaborative map can help you distinguish between those relationships.


Using the diagram below  as an example, the inner circle of your collaborative map contains your most critical partners. Without these specific groups, your own organization would cease to exist. For example, Phelps Helps wouldn’t be able to operate without the help of local elementary schools and high schools.

The middle circle of the collaborative map comprises ancillary collaborators. These partners are important for the execution of your organization’s intended impact, although not necessarily critical to its survival.

The outer circle of the collaborative map represents influencers—media, government, agencies such as consulting groups and other large-scale players that can have an impact greater than your own. These collaborators can share your mission and vision beyond your capacity, and affect change through policy, advocacy and outreach.


 

Benefits of using a collaborative map

We covered what a collaborative map is, but how does it help? As much as collaboration is key for a successful community non-profit, so is administrative organization. With that said, your collaborative map can benefit your overall organization in a variety of ways.
 

1

Organize outreach

Especially if you’re starting from scratch, you need to know where your allies are and what resources you can leverage. Your collaborative map can help illustrate these relationships, including which collaborator provides what benefit, service or support function. By doing this, your organization can easily see who to contact for what purpose on what occasion.

2

Target new partnerships

Identifying new partnerships to pursue is another benefit of using a collaborative map. Similar to organizing outreach with collaborators you depend on or are familiar with, you can target partners you haven’t worked with as well. Visualizing collaborators both current and desired in this way can help you both expand and maintain your network.

3

Track major influencers

Influencers represent your most aspirational group of collaborators. As such, they might be more difficult to forge a relationship with. But anything is possible! Monitoring influencers that can help your cause helps you prioritize which ones to target and better prepare your outreach.

4

Avoid service duplication

All community non-profits undoubtedly have the best intentions, but unfortunately there are only so many resources to go around—particularly in rural areas. Not every initiative can necessarily be supported, which is why it’s important to avoid service duplication at all costs. Additionally, multiple variations of the same program serving the same community can create confusion and competition. By mapping out partners and their respective services on a collaborative map, your organization can take strategic steps to avoid duplicating programming.

5

Fill service gaps

In addition to service duplication, a collaborative map can help your organization identify and fill gaps in community services as well. This can be especially helpful when making decisions about how available resources should be allocated. Whether it’s opportunities to fill service gaps individually or collaboratively with partners, noting it all down in on your collaborative map can take you from planning to execution that much easier.

Unlock more best practices for your community non-profit

Phelps Helps is deeply committed to helping similar organizations be successful in their own communities. Download our Phelps A to Z Monograph for more best practices on building a productive non-profit your stakeholders can depend on.