A group of the strongest philanthropic organizations in Dallas-Fort Worth have announced a pilot program aimed at driving large-scale social change.
Called the Better Together Fund, the program was introduced Wednesday by The Dallas Foundation, Lyda Hill Foundation, The Meadows Foundation, and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. Money will be given to nonprofits that formally collaborate with the common purpose of maximizing their impact.
“Nonprofits are doing extraordinary work and the goal of this initiative is to strengthen those nonprofits so they can continue to serve our community consistently for years to come,” Lyda Hill Foundation CEO Nicole Small said in a release. “The goal of the Better Together Fund is to provide the financial assistance, expert resources, and time needed to explore potential strategic shifts in thinking that result in more positive change faster.”
The Better Together Fund came about after years of research with strategic consultants, local nonprofit CEOs and funders, and industry experts including BoardSource, La Piana, Nonprofit Finance Fund, Bridgespan, and the Lodestar Foundation, according to the release.The program is a first-of-its-kind funding concept in North Texas, but in recent years, variations of formal collaboration funding have been operating in other areas of the nation.
“With community needs on the rise and funding streams increasingly competitive, the time to bring organizations together to solve big problems is now,” Anne Wallestad, president and CEO of BoardSource, said.
A NEW WAY OF NONPROFIT FUNDING
What makes The Better Together Fund different? According to organizers, it goes beyond just funding to provide end-to-end support to participating nonprofits, setting DFW apart from other U.S. cities with similar initiatives.
The program offers grant funding from $3,000 to $600,000 to cover staff time, consultants, and other costs related to “exploring, planning and/or implementing formal nonprofit collaboration.”
“With community needs on the rise and funding streams increasingly competitive, the time to bring organizations together to solve big problems is now”
Also, the fund offers tools, resources, research, and best practices in addition to pro-bono or reduced-rate facilitators, consultants, and professional service experts such as Bain & Co. and La Piana Consulting.
Those firms offered to assist program partners in developing strategic partnership plans, the release said.
Formal collaboration is a more permanent model that defines a relationship between one nonprofit and another nonprofit, a government agency, or a corporation, fund organizers said.
The Fund believes that operating with shared goals and resources, formal relationships will change the way the nonprofits do long-term business, have board involvement and endorsement, as well as preserving, expanding, and improving efficiency or services to their constituents.
The fund’s steering committee will consider applications on a rolling basis and for any topic area. Nonprofits can apply on the fund’s website.
Grants approved by the steering committee will be awarded through the Dallas Foundation, with the anticipation of awarding $2 to 3 million in the project’s first few years.
To qualify for funding, at least one of the collaborating organizations must be a nonprofit based in and/or serving North Texas, and meet certain financial criteria. Not all funding requests will be awarded, the fund said.
Dallas philanthropist Lyda Hill, namesake of the Lyda Hill Foundation, recently was mentioned in a study about “big bet” philanthropic donations that are aimed a making major change on problems facing society.
Her foundation is well known for investing in scientific work and health crisis-related research.
The United Way of Metropolitan Dallas long has been working to build a sense of community.
Recently, Jennifer Sampson, CEO of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, laid out seven actions that she said can help build a healthy community, including “embrace a larger purpose,” “fail fast, fail forward,” and “we before me.”