(Photo via cultureworksphila.org)
Nonprofit resource sharing is important, but can be difficult — for some sectors more so than others.
Making organizational collaborations happen “with the least amount of friction and hassle” is a challenge, especially for the arts and culture sector, according to CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia founder and Managing Director Thaddeus Squire. CultureWorks offers shared back office functions and provides resources to nonprofits in the arts and culture sector to help them increase their efficiency.
Where the health and human services sector has been a pioneer in resource sharing while being supported by organizations such as Urban Affairs Coalition, Resources for Human Development and Public Health Management Corporation, Squire said, the arts and culture sector has lagged and has few resources for fiscal sponsorship.
Its inherently individual nature also poses a challenge because there are “no absolute measures of success,” he said. Health and human services organizations have quantifiable outcomes. In the arts, founder must rely on other notions of self-worth — including independence, which come along with being in control of your own nonprofit.
Therefore, “people are choosing independence and not sharing resources to bolster their sense of self-worth,” Squire said. It’s the IKEA Effect — overvaluing something you’ve built yourself leads to the fetishization of that thing — and it’s not always a sensible business decision.
The conversation surrounding resource sharing is shifting from analytical thinking and financial and legal approaches about collaborations to considering the emotional, social and psychological barriers to them. It would behoove arts and culture nonprofits to consider both views more vigorously.
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