The benefits of collaboration between community organisations and municipalities
The benefits of strong collaborative practices between local government municipalities and NGOs or community organisations are manyfold and well-recognised and should benefit all involved parties, including community organisations, municipalities, and intermediate organisations. An outline of these benefits of collaboration is provided below, based on our own research, and a review of the relevant literature.
Benefits to community organisations
In terms of benefits to NGOs and community organisations in general, an array of advantages exists. These include but are not limited to, increased access to expertise in various departments, the potential for improved funding and access to resources which local governments can provide, regulatory preparedness, as well as improved credibility.
Also of great benefit is the provision of stronger networking capacities, where networks can be facilitated via local government municipalities, between multiple NGOs and community organisations, leading to further collaboration, the organisation of events and the exchange of important data and expertise. Such partnerships can also promote improved visibility for community-based organisations, including exposure on social media, and improved public relations and publicity across a wide range of media sources.
Benefits to municipalities
For local government, the benefits are also far-reaching, from a reduction in risk and responsibility, the minimisation of public spending and improvement in public policy, help in avoiding costly duplicative efforts or gaps when implementing policies, and many other benefits from the perspective of efficiency and financial prudence.
In addition, municipalities can benefit greatly from receiving expert advice from experienced professionals in the field with a strong potential for “local knowledge”. Community organisations work within their community in an intimate, personal way which local governments rarely do, and so the hands-on experience of their staff is likely to provide valuable perspectives, knowledge, and connections within a partnership.
Further benefits to municipalities include access to analysis and data previously gathered by NGOs and community organisations, improved public relations and publicity, along with the potential for improved employee engagement.
Benefits for intermediate organisations
What should also be considered are the significant benefits for intermediate organisations, those interacting between NGOs and community organisations, and local government municipalities, in a secondary role.
The organisations will reap the benefits of such a collaborative partnership in several ways, from establishing good relationships with their municipality, and local community-based organisations within their region, gaining greater knowledge on the different activities and priorities of community-based organisations and municipalities, and a generally improved ability in cooperative processes.
These lists are far from exhaustive, and collaborative practices can continue to pay dividends long after being established, improving the organisational capacity of all involved and providing an avenue for ideas to be exchanged. The question is what can be done to improve the collaborative and cooperative practices and capacities of both sides in such an arrangement. It is of great importance to approach collaboration between NGOs and local governments in a sensible and well-considered manner, as the process can come across various issues and obstacles, from wasted resources, negative media attention, to ultimately failed projects.
It is important to recognise the differences between the various objectives, roles, and constraints of NGOs and local governments, and the reasons why they can be such effective partners. NGOs can be flexible and work in nimble ways that governments can’t afford to, either financially or politically, taking risks and not fearing failure. Local governments can allow NGOs to scale, providing the necessary sustainability and support. Government can also leverage the support of NGOs to provide innovation and improve accountability.
In conclusion, well-managed partnerships and strong collaborative relationships can provide a great many benefits to community organisations and municipalities and should be considered a powerful tool in improving the outcomes of those involved, whilst potential obstacles to success should be taken into consideration.