Collaboration Makes Us Better

On May 28, 2021
In Blog

ESPN Films and Netflix teamed up to produce a mini-series last spring about an all-star player considered one of the greatest of all times. Viewed by millions, this highly anticipated 10-part documentary highlighted most of the highs and some of the lows of an uncontested athlete and leader who scored career wins and multiple championships for his team. When asked about his formula or recipe for winning, he stated many strategies, lessons learned, and shared about his passion and drive. His highlighted teammates, family, and friends, and commented on how his competitive nature drove them to work harder, play smarter, and strategize differently. Each time the esteemed Michael Jordan, NBA Allstar, heard what had been shared, he lifted how the influence of his teammates strengthened him as a person and how through their impact, he developed as an all-around great player. In theory, he adopted Fryefly’s saying “competition makes us faster, collaboration makes us better.”

So how does this relate to philanthropy? Glad you asked. If no other lesson learned from the continued impact of the current global pandemic, is the reality that connection and collaboration are the essence of how we truly grow and learn. Beyond the push to collaborate, is the need to join forces so that we can expand capacity and do more with what we have. Today’s funders are interested in how organizations serve communities from a partnership perspective, while using an equity lens to be effective at creating the change they say their services deliver. Considering that partnership can take on different meanings, it is important to explore what works and think about the greater gain of those we serve.

As a next step, consider the following strength-based mindsets to embrace collaboration:

    1. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” –  African Proverb

      Collaboration requires process; two or more people working together on a shared goal to complete a task or achieve an outcome ( Organizations open to bringing their strengths to connect with like minded organizations with the goal of positioning themselves to further their impact are essential.

    2. Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” – Henry Ford

      Successful collaboration happens in the context of establishing trust in a relationship over time. Organizations that establish some basic practices around working together for longer term success are primed to achieve their goals. To take things a step further, determining partner roles and creating a game plan for what working together looks like is key.

    3. “None of us is as smart as all of us.” – Ken Blanchard

      Organizations that consider that each partner plays an equitable role is true collaboration. This means that what each partner contributes is fair and just and is seen as such. When we value the input of others and see it as a part of the bigger picture of impact, we can be authentic in how we collaborate.

Always remember, “No one can whistle a symphony; it takes a whole orchestra to play it.” – H.E. Luccock
Michael Jordan’s achievements would not have been possible without the collaboration of the cadre of great teammates that partnered with him. Collaboration not only makes us better, it allows us to sound better and do more and creates more capacity and ultimately opens the door of possibility.


About the Author: As Strategy Officer with The Alliance for Health Equity (AHE), Kimberly leads community engagement, grant making and oversees AHE’s health initiatives, scholarships, and philanthropic programs including Community Voice. Read more about AHE’s impact at .