Shanduka Foundation Collaborating With Funding Partners/Grantmakers
Donne Nicol, head of the Shanduka Foundation, says that collaboration is a core part of everything the organisation does, as all of its programmes are joint efforts in one way or another. For example, in March 2013, the Shanduka Foundation signed an agreement with Kagiso Trust and the Department of Education to work together in 428 schools in two districts in the Free State province. “We worked together for 18 months before the agreement was formally signed. This preparatory period and the intense communications process it involved was definitely part of the reason the partnership is successful.”
The communication process began at the level of the heads of the organisations, then the executives became involved, and then management. Substantial time was spent workshopping best practice and ensuring that each party’s needs and goals were understood. “Physical meetings were critical,” she shared. “It was the only way that we could ensure proper communication between three very different entities.” Nicol believes that communication structures are critically important. “It’s vital to discuss communication upfront and agree on structures for engagement. We set up committees and a stakeholder relations plan to communicate the collaboration to everyone involved. Once we had signed the agreement, we also realised that some of our staff who weren’t involved in the project were feeling excluded, so we responded with a three-day team-building session. We spent time communicating about each organisation in the Kagiso Shanduka Trust, showing that we share goals and values, and what we want to achieve in education in South Africa.”
She notes that when collaborating on social investment projects, it’s also important to think about practicalities like co-branding marketing collateral. She says that simple things, like discussing upfront how each party’s logo and corporate identity will be incorporated into digital and print materials, can prevent challenges and misunderstandings later on.