Alliances help to strengthen nonprofits in trying times

October 22, 2013

Alliances help to strengthen nonprofits in trying times

Around the country, nonprofits are finding that working together and pooling resources can help keep the doors open during lean times and create an exchange of valuable ideas. Alliances can be based on geographic location and common goals or needs.

The National Council of Nonprofits supports exploring the option of strategic alliances, but also warns organizations to remain conscious of potential drawbacks and risks. Organizations need to make sure they don't put their tax exempt status in jeopardy by joining too closely with for-profits or by drastically changing funding with private benefit transactions. Even in the most basic of alliances, the council recommends drawing up a letter of agreement outlining the expectations and responsibilities of the alliance.

Theaters share resources in Harrisburg
In Pennsylvania, a number of theaters are working to market each other's work and come up with creative ideas for increasing attendance and programs, according to Nonprofit Quarterly. The Harrisburg Area Theatre Alliance is group of actors, producers and directors promoting the area's mix of theaters.

The groups will share production resources such as props and customers, and work together on marketing and educational campaigns. The effort reduces costs and increases awareness of community, professional and campus theater in the central part of the state. 

"We should all be helping each other to stay open," Brenda Eppley, one of the founding members told NPQ. "It benefits all of us. No one is going to lose their autonomy by joining this alliance."

Statewide alliances for nonprofit awareness
The Alliance for Nevada Nonprofits connects nonprofits throughout the state to help keep them up to date on legislative issues and nonprofit sector news. The alliance provides relevant information to its members and seeks to strengthen the nonprofit presence in Nevada. 

Under the umbrella of the larger National Council of Nonprofits, many states have similar alliances or organizations aimed at increasing the success and impact of local nonprofits.

Other alliances exist to specifically help organizations with similar affiliations, such as education, health care and the arts. These groups help each other in many different ways but mainly through the sharing of pertinent information.

Savings on Unemployment Insurance
Nonprofits can also benefit from collaborations such as First Nonprofit's Unemployment Savings Program. The partnership includes over 1,000 nonprofits that have taken advantage of a unique UI savings program. With First Nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organizations can opt out of State UI tax pools and utilize an alternative funding option through private insurance. The option is not available to for-profit entities and is just one of many cost-saving alliances that nonprofits have access to.

Nonprofits can find information about alliances in their area by visiting the National Council of Nonprofits, or create their own by starting roundtable discussions with area organizations. Nonprofits that take advantage of collaborative efforts and alliances reduce financial strain and have greater access to resources and information related to the nonprofit sector.

For information on how your organization can cost-effectively meet its unemployment insurance needs, contact First Nonprofit Companies at or visit


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