by Shawn Duncan
It’s impossible to build strong communities alone. The very word community suggests interdependence. And in forty years of community development work, we at FCS have experienced the immense value of strong collaboration. In fact, we cannot impact our neighborhood for good without partnerships.
However, as appealing as partnerships may be, we’ve seen how challenging it can be to create effective and sustainable ones. It requires skill and a type of posture and approach that cultivates relationship and trust.
As you take the first steps of inviting others into collaboration, here’s 7 questions to consider as you seek to build truly effective neighborhood partnerships:
Am I asking people to help me with a project I’ve already decided on, or am I truly open to a new idea emerging from the group?
Am I listening for what I want to hear, or am I paying attention to what others are actually saying? (Bonus question: Will I make changes based on what they do say?)
Am I paying attention to the speed the group is wanting to move or am I pushing for faster (or slower) based on my desires?
Are all parties sharing the same understanding of major concepts? Sometimes identical terminology can have very different meanings.
What dynamics in the group might prevent people from feeling safe enough to share openly and honestly?
Am I crafting thoughtful questions that will be clear to everyone and specific enough to keep us moving forward?
What level of investment are others expecting to make, and am I asking for more (or less) than that?
Partnerships can be the secret sauce in game-changing community development. There’s no silver bullet to ending poverty, and we need different organizations, churches, and institutions to bring their strengths together. But partnerships also take work in practice.
These questions can be a great starting place to set the stage for authentic and impactful collaboration to happen. If you’d like FCS’ help in partnership building, please contact our Director of Training and Education, Dr. Shawn Duncan, to learn about consulting.