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North Carolina Center for Nonprofits 2021 Statewide Conference

Who Decides Who’s Ready to Build Thriving Community Ecosystems?

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and America’s racial reckoning of 2020, communities are clear that the only ways to rebuild, re-energize and recover are to work collaboratively to address complex social problems. It is no longer enough to focus on strengthening individual nonprofits with the hope of enabling them to meet community residents’ needs. Yet, the mere commitment or desire to collaborate, no matter how strong, has never resulted in successful solutions to even the tamest of community challenges.

Nonprofit organizations, funders, and the communities they support, must build capacity to work in relationship with each other, set clear goals, share stories of successes and barriers, find common ground, and establish clear and consistent communications pathways – as prerequisites for any collaborative venture to affect real and lasting change. Funders typically determine whether the nonprofits they support are “ready” to grow, strengthen, or scale, when they should be questioning their own readiness to engage collaboratively in ecosystem innovation. Grantee-Funder power dynamics often inhibit trust building that is crucial to the staying power of many local nonprofit organizations. This session will explore “readiness” barriers that prevent funders, nonprofits, and ultimately their community ecosystems from thriving.


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