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Collaboration is the New Black

Posted March 10, 2019 by LSC

While not as trendy as the latest business buzzwords, collaboration, in its many forms, is the key to success for many non-profit organizations today. Learn how Land Stewardship Centre has taken collaboration to the next level, working closely with others to reduce overhead, leverage connections and increase impact.

New opportunity, new approach

For 23 years, Land Stewardship Centre (LSC) has embraced collaboration, recognizing it’s better to avoid duplicating efforts and, rather than reinvent the wheel, work closely with others to improve and roll the wheel farther along. For LSC, collaboration has traditionally consisted of sharing information and working with others on various projects and initiatives to achieve common goals. But in 2015, when fellow non-profit Nature Alberta was seeking a new Executive Director, an opportunity presented itself for the two organizations to work together in a unique and innovative way, and take collaboration to a new level.

A good fit

Recognizing a natural alignment between their respective visions and organizational mandates, LSC and Nature Alberta established a strategic partnership that enables more efficient and effective operations and management of both organizations through a shared-services model. Under this arrangement LSC provides staff, administrative, operational as well as strategic and program planning support to Nature Alberta. But both organizations remain independent entities.

“Nature Alberta had a need, and LSC had the resources,” explains Brian Ilnicki, LSC’s Executive Director. “Given the connections and networks we have in common, when the idea of sharing services was proposed, it made sense to both our boards to pursue the opportunity.”

No risk, no reward

Both organizations took a bit of a risk by trying something new to them. But, nearly four years later, it goes without saying this leap into the unknown has paid off for both LSC and Nature Alberta. With the ability to co-apply for grants, cross promote initiatives to elevate awareness, reduce operational and administrative costs, expand networks and more, the mutual benefits to each partner continue to accrue.

The success of this first shared-services partnership with Nature Alberta established a pattern that has sparked a flame. In 2017, a similar opportunity arose and LSC became the official secretariat of the Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity Network (ESBN), welcoming their current coordinator into the LSC family. Once again, LSC was able to offer seasoned management and operational support to help further the ESBN’s efforts to advance knowledge of ecosystem services and biodiversity, and the use of market-based approaches to enhance these services.

Most recently, in late 2018, LSC was engaged by the Beaver Hills Biosphere (one of only two UNESO biospheres in Alberta), to lend administrative, management and governance knowledge and experience to support, guide and elevate their efforts to advance projects and support partners’ efforts in the Biosphere.

Mutual respect, mutual success

It’s been said that necessity is the mother of invention. Increasing competition for a shrinking pool of resources has non-profits thinking beyond traditional approaches and embracing inventive new ways to get things done. LSC has woven collaboration with like-minded organizations into the fabric of its daily operations and, together, all involved have become enhanced versions of themselves because of it.

LSC encourages others to look at collaboration with a unique and innovative lens as well. When there are limited resources available, it makes more sense to band together, because we truly go further – and accomplish more – along the way.

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Helen Keller

Some comments...

  • Jim Gendron says:

    Excellent job of leveraging opportunities between organizations and taking advantage of knowledge, experience and skills.

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