Every successful social services nonprofit organization, including the Jewish Family Service of Rhode Island, is doing it … collaborating, that is. Agencies get together to share information and resources and work toward achieving mutual goals. In other words, they collaborate; but why is so collaboration so popular? Money is one reason; foundations and others funding nonprofits much prefer to fund initiatives where organizations with similar or complementary missions collaborate, rather than initiatives addressed by a single entity. When multiple entities work together toward meeting the same goal, there’s a much greater likelihood that they will make a positive social impact.
How does JFS collaborate? Although our clients come from all religious and ethnic backgrounds, JFS collaborates daily with other Jewish communal agencies. In the course of a single day, a JFS staff member might talk with a Jewish Seniors Agency staff member about a JFS client’s need to access kosher food from its food pantry, a visit to a new Jewish resident in a nursing home in Rhode Island or the status of a client on the waiting list for Tamarisk. We might also brainstorm ideas on how we can collectively meet the needs of individuals who receive very different services from each agency.
We regularly communicate with the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island’s Access Jewish RI staff, as we seek to the meet the needs of individuals calling the Access Jewish RI’s help line. JFS and JSA will collaborate on two new initiatives: Writing a regular column about issues of caregiving for The Jewish Voice, the biweekly newspaper for the greater Jewish community of Rhode Island, and recruiting volunteers who will be trained to assist elderly individuals at their complex medical appointments.
While each organization has its own unique culture, style and approach to problem-solving, JFS and other Jewish communal organizations share an important common goals – that of meeting the needs of our Jewish community. Our mutual respect for one another’s experiences fosters cooperation, open communication and positive interactions. Recognizing that these collaborations are in our community’s best interests, staff members from different agencies are able to work through culture, style and approach to problem-solving differences.
Collaboration and cooperation… they may not be your father’s way of delivering services, yet I am proud to be a part of the new approach!