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  • David J Dunworth
    Post count: 14

    Often business leaders, politicians, the public at large and nonprofits operate in their own sphere. Every now and then something marvelous happens; people collaborate.

    As nonprofit or NGO leaders, people often feel alone and island-bound in a sea of “other” activity. That simply isn’t true, from most perspectives. Getting out into the community working with all of the aforementioned groups is a great way to develop relationships and spread your mission. The same thing holds true for volunteers, staff, committee members, and the Board. Everyone on the team really should be responsible for “discipleship” and sharing the message. That’s when amazing things happen.

    Collaboration comes about when like-minded individuals and organizations identify similarities or common goals. Even disjointed goals can be collaboratively bound for the benefit of each party.

    Here’s a real-life example of something I was a part of in Hyderabad India in 2018. A local NGO needed additional volunteers to implement an ancillary mission component, but was having difficulty locating enough interested parties. Concurrently, the community at large often criticized the overall “culture” of pressing their children to “rank” and score so they can end up with a high-paying job. The challenge, in this case, was that because of the pressure parents, the school system, and internal pressures produced amazingly bright college students, however, they had little to no “soft skills.” These very intelligent college seniors on their way to interviews of major companies like Tata, Deloitte, and others without the ability to express themselves. These young people had their heads down in books, on computers, and living, breathing and trying to ensure they rank high enough in their class to lead the field. It they was at the top of the ranks, surely they would be considered for top employment opportunities.
    Not the case. You see, these kids didn’t have enough social time growing up to develop skills like cooperation, relationship building, communications that weren’t forced or canned. Few understood the value of just being human. That’s the type of pressure most of the Indian college grads experience.
    So, as a trial opportunity, the organization for which I was part performed an experiment. Our target university for this project was JNTU, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University Hyderabad. JNTU is the largest university system (more than 80 campuses country-wide). For a full semester, a group of young seniors was asked to volunteer as “volunteers” with an NGO somewhere in town ( we had 6). They would volunteer 6 hours a week for the term, with weekly reporting by both a team leader and the NGO head. They were graded on their contribution to the goals, the ability to communicate clearly with distinct skill sets, how they interacted with other volunteers, and also how seriously they took the assignment. The outcome we hoped for was to convert these introverted and shy young adults into confident, energetic, and hopeful rather than anxious about their futures.
    On top of all that was the financial support of local business leaders to support the mission of the particular NGOs in the program, with financial prizes for the top-performing teams.

    This is what I refer to as “the ultimate collaboration.” Business, an NGO (or several), a school, students, and a leadership team like SynerVision. The results were astounding. At the conclusion of the semester, these students evolved into completely different people. They were confident, happy, hopeful, near stress-free, and optimistic of their future. In the end several were hired by the supporting business, others got hired by top firms around the country, and some found their niche and passion in the NGO world. That’s collaboration at its finest.

    Sandy Birkenmaier
    Post count: 11

    What a fantastic program, David! Thanks so much for sharing.I believe that my collaborative experiences through the Federal Work-Study Program and undergraduate research, albeit within the university system, had a larger bearing on my employment than did my degree.

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