Equipping nonprofits to advance social change

Briefings in New Mexico Reaffirm the Importance of Strong Partnerships

Written by Alicia Lueras Maldonado

During the first week of May, the Building Movement Project team gathered in Santa Fe and Albuquerque with local partners and community members to share and discuss the findings of the 2016 New Mexico Nonprofit Survey. We gathered at the Center for Nonprofit Excellence in Albuquerque and at the Santa Fe Community Foundation to hear from local nonprofit leaders and share the results from our survey.

At our briefings, local nonprofit leaders addressed how they work in collaboration with others to achieve their goals, and the resulting challenges and opportunities that come from working in partnership. In Albuquerque, we were joined by Michael Casaus of the Wilderness Society, Rachel LaZar of El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos, Alissa Barnes of Roadrunner Food Bank, and Alex Curtas of the Center for Civic Policy. They shared their experiences and identified key components of successful collaboration, including high level of trust and respect for the partners. Social network analysis of the data gathered in the 2016 New Mexico Nonprofit Survey found that one of the most effective ways to establish this essential trust is through frequent communication. It was also noted that some campaigns and/or collaborations will not bear fruit right away and sometimes take many years, as Michael shared in the case of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks national monument designation, which took some 20 years and included many unlikely allies and partners.

At the Santa Fe briefing, Marcela Diaz of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, Melynn Schuyler of ¡Youth Works!, and Edward Tabet-Cubero of the Center on Law and Poverty shared how the shifting political landscape is affecting their work. They stressed that collaborations and partnerships have to be more strategic, and better resourced, in order to be successful. They also shared the frustration that can accompany requests for collaboration that come without additional financial support or a shared understanding of the root causes and strategies for achieving success. Write-in responses from the survey showed that others in the state shared this concern and a resulting recommendation in the Working Towards the Common Good 2016 report is that New Mexico’s nonprofits "risk shifting the paradigm" by continuing to have rich discussions about these underlying causes.

As we wrap up this fourth year of surveying New Mexico’s nonprofits, it is clear that organizations collaborate at a high level, and that these partnerships are integral to their success and accomplishments. By highlighting the importance of these deep relationships, we hope to continue supporting New Mexico’s nonprofit organizations as they work to improve the lives of New Mexico’s families.

Service and Social Change advocacy community involvement constituent engagement New Mexico nonprofit sector service delivery