The strength and power of collaborative partnerships

1 August 2019
In today’s non-profit landscape, there are challenges that are common to many organizations. Lack of resources, funding, sustainability, and an increasing demand for services, often result in difficulty building capacity. The magnitude of these issues can be quite daunting however, there is a burgeoning appreciation for the benefits of creating critical partnerships and collaborations in order to create significant social impact. Non-profit and social service organizations do not have to go through it alone when tackling some, or all of these challenges.  
 
Strategic partnerships and combining forces can result in great accomplishments. They offer a number of significant benefits from improving outreach efforts to enhancing programs and services. There are many ways that developing partnerships can help improve efficacy, impact, and sustainability. Collaboration with the right partners can involve: 
 
  • Sharing information  
  • Transferring decision-making power  
  • Consolidating  administrative functions  
  • Integrating organizational structures and mechanisms; and 
  • Coordinating funding and cost sharing.  
When organizations are able to pool interests, assets and skills, the goal of broadening benefits to communities is achievable. 
 
For Prosper Canada, alliances with our project funders, and partners all feed into our commitment to promote financial policies, programs and resources that will transform lives and foster the prosperity of all Canadians. For example, collaborations such as our Prosperity Gateway – Cities for Financial Empowerment and Financial Empowerment Champions initiatives, are  built on the premise that collaborating with systems, people and organizations with similar goals to ours, is imperative to achieving sustainability, scale and successful outcomes.  
 
One such success is exemplified by our Ontario Financial Empowerment Champion (FEC), Family Service Thames Valley (FSTV) in London, Ontario who has partnered with The Salvation Army Centre of Hope, Housing Stability Bank, on the Ontario FEC project. FSTV has developed a model where they are able to play the role of capacity builder. The additional support through the Ontario FEC project has also allowed them to expand their capacity, and the role of Money Coaches, while deepening their partnership with the Housing Stability Bank. Having had a relationship with the Centre of Hope for over a decade, being able to provide Money Coaches as a direct result of funding have allowed them to have a greater impact with increased manpower.

Expanding the capacity of Money Coaches allowed them to meet more clients, be in different locations, and made them available to other community organizations in a way that they would not have been able to accommodate in the past. The funding has allowed them to build on their collaborative approach and opened up deeper relationships with local employment agencies. It has allowed them to support all the work around tax clinics and opened up new opportunities through sharing tools that they did not have access to before. 
 
Among their many roles and building on the foundation of many years of effort in the financial empowerment field, their training of Salvation Army Money Coaches was foundational in their ability to guide and support people living on low income to build budgets and expand their financial literacy. This collaboration has allowed both organizations to grow their capacity to support, and provide guidance and information to their clients. In addition, FSTV is also able to access Prosper Canada resources, which they can utilize in their day-to-day work. The online Benefits Screening Tool (BST) is one of the resources FSTV is using to help identify income benefits that people living on low- to-modest incomes are eligible for but may not be receiving. The BST also helps identify the resources to navigate the often, complex benefit application processes. This tool is currently being pilot tested in the social service sector through our Ontario Financial Empowerment Champions. 
 
Robert Leyland of FSTV describes the importance of having the ability to build on already established relationships with additional tools in their tool belt. Being able to collaborate with partners like, Ontario Works, the City of London, Oxford County and the Nokee Kwe Employment Centre, to name a few, allows them greater access to partner facilities and clients that they may have worked with occasionally in the past. FSTV has been able to broaden their range of services offered to people living on low incomes in London. In addition to their key initiative, embedding money coaches into The Salvation Army – Centre of Hope – the Housing Stability Bank, they were able to meet people where they were at via other organizations in the city and help those struggling with financial issues such as budgeting, debt and general tax questions. In providing some leadership and support to local tax clinics, FSTV has been able to support over 15,000 tax filings in 2019 .  
 
 “Having a small team means being lean and nimble. Having access to the BST and other tools in our roster to help support our partners means we are able to provide access to additional resources, tools, and staff. We are able to develop curriculum, workshops and financial literacy opportunities which have shown us that the more willing you are to collaborate, the more open cities are to in turn, reach out to us.” Robert Leyland, Financial Empowerment Specialist, FSTV 
 
FSTV sees the value of collaboration in not duplicating services others are providing and not putting additional effort into re-creating the wheel. They wholeheartedly embrace the concept of developing mutually beneficial partnerships, which has enabled them to foster their collaborative approach and establish deeper relationships with local employment and other social service agencies. FSTV was able to get direct access to community members in need via the Nokee Kwe Employment Centre where they were able to connect with clients from the local mental health clinic and reach out to the Aboriginal community in South London. Breaking down barriers to financial support, increasing referrals and establishing a presence allows them to embed financial empowerment services into tax clinics, city services, church outreach, housing and employment agencies and has allowed FSTV to expand their money coaching abilities and the opportunity to run their own workshops and respond to more requests for support. FSTV consistently recognizes the impact they are able to make through collaboration, and they clearly see and experience the expansion of service delivery.  
 
Continuing to make community connections is the focus for FSTV as they expand their efforts to increase Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) and Canada Learning Bond uptake for families who are not aware. Their impact on community members living on low income continues to grow, as does the support for the work they do. 
 
Click for more information on Family Services Thames Valley. 
Phone: 519-433-0183