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Fostering Nonprofit Networks

Posted: 6:47PM November 14th, 2016 | Comments

When people hear the word ‘sustainability’ most people think of recycling, producing less waste, or lowering carbon dioxide emissions for large corporations. But Sustain Dane believes the term means much more than “going green”. Sustainability is about working together to build a community that everyone can succeed in, making the economy fair and just and creating a healthy planet. Around the Sustain Dane office, this is called Big ‘S’ Sustainability.  


Big ‘S’ Sustainability is not easy to achieve by any means. It takes a lot of cooperation and communication across disciplines within a community, especially within the nonprofit sector. Sustain Dane is a great example of this by working with many nonprofits in order to achieve their mission. For many other nonprofits, this isn’t the case and they struggle to create these partnerships. So why is nurturing nonprofit relationships so rare among nonprofits?


The nonprofit sector has expanded throughout the last decade. Nonprofits are finding new ways to be involved and fill voids in our society, (whether this is good or bad I will let you decide). From my experience in the nonprofit sector, many nonprofits look at this expansion as competition for funds. Because of this viewpoint and fear, nonprofits refuse to look for each other for support and networking opportunities and instead worry about whether or not they will “steal” their top funders. In my opinion, this stops growth and collaboration that could be beneficial within the nonprofit sector. When organizations are not open to partnerships, they miss out on inspiration and creativity outsiders can provide.  


So, how do we encourage nonprofits to work together and not see each other as competition? In order to create unity among the nonprofit sector, nonprofit must understand how their missions are correlated. Not all nonprofits directly relate to each other, but all nonprofits intersect with each other. All this means is that their missions and service to society somehow relate to one another. Once these intersections are exposed, nonprofits can share knowledge and have a higher impact in their community. If the nonprofit sector is able to nurture nonprofit networks, they could create a greater world.


Sustain Dane is aware of these intersections within sustainability and it is because of their framework of Big ‘S’ Sustainability that keeps them nurturing nonprofit networks to make Dane County a great place to live.


By Amanda Ruetten, Social Media/Communications Intern

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