How collaboration with nonprofits can build a more resilient Canada

When they work together, nonprofits can share knowledge, amplify impact, and help create a more connected Canada.

At Palette Skills, we know that partnerships and collaborations with nonprofits have the potential to address complex social challenges while creating a more connected, supported, and resilient Canada. Simply by working in tandem, smaller organizations with similar mandates can share knowledge, leverage funding, and amplify impact. 

Significantly, Canada’s nonprofit sector has a critical role to play as intermediary between multiple parties in different sectors, including business and the private sector. That’s because nonprofits can help create pathways of communication for Canadian industries and entrepreneurs, helping them make their priorities known to researchers and policymakers. At the same time, nonprofits can help usher inventive proposals from the world of research and development (R&D) into the hands of real-world entrepreneurs, who are adept at turning new ideas and technology into business. 

Know your niche

Sometimes, nonprofits position themselves at the nexus of industry and the workforce, creating opportunities for career preparation that are directly informed by the “pain points” articulated by Canadian businesses. That’s certainly where Palette Skills sees itself creating change. Because of the work we do, Palette Skills believes that fostering such cross-sectoral partnerships leads to more comprehensive solutions that reach a wider range of individuals and communities.

Ambitions and scale

Anyone with experience in the nonprofit sector knows that charities and community-focused groups bubble over with purpose and ambition. However, despite their strength and vision, many nonprofits face significant challenges when it comes to achieving goals. Part of this has to do with the structural reality of many issues and areas of social concern. But other times, particularly when faced with increasing demand for their services, charities and nonprofit groups struggle with problems of scale. 

Fortunately, this is another area where innovative nonprofits can assist each other, and let smaller organizations focus on their missions. CanadaHelps works to build resilience and sustainability in Canada’s nonprofit sector by offering a scalable donation platform that’s currently used by over 26,000 charities and nonprofits. It’s an important contribution, because a 2021 survey by CanadaHelps found the majority of nonprofits reported being stretched thin, without enough time or resources to effectively leverage critical online tools such as websites. 

Joining forces

One strategy that is more and more common in the nonprofit sector is to join forces, either with a small number of groups to address a particular problem, or by coming together in larger umbrella organizations. Collaboration allows nonprofit groups to work towards shared goals more efficiently by combining resources, knowledge, and expertise. Additionally, when nonprofits work together, they can amplify their impact and achieve greater outcomes than possible alone. Collaboration also allows nonprofit groups to pool resources, such as funding, volunteers, and equipment, which can help groups achieve goals more efficiently and effectively. Finally, working together can help to improve the long-term sustainability of nonprofit groups by creating a network of support and resources that can be leveraged in the future.

Addressing skills gaps

Simple examples of beneficial collaboration include when two organizations team up to apply for funding opportunities that favour larger projects, or when groups come together to apply for grants with eligibility criteria only one partner can meet. These kinds of collaborations can also help address issues of skills gaps in the nonprofit workforce and beyond. Indeed, as Palette Skills has pointed out before, the problem of Canada’s skills gap is far-reaching, particularly when it comes to digital skills. That’s one of the reasons why Palette Skills is excited for the recently-launched Canadian Centre for Nonprofit Digital Resilience (CCNDR), which unites leading nonprofits around the collective goal of promoting digital resilience in the nonprofit sector.

Innovation intermediaries

Nonprofits don’t just play a role supporting other nonprofits. Indeed, they have a crucial role to play in addressing issues that cut across sectors, such as climate change and related issues of food security, or access to health care. It’s clear that relying on market demand alone is often insufficient, particularly when it comes to incentivizing the adoption of emerging technologies that can contribute to a healthier future for Canada. A coordinated approach with nonprofits positioned as innovation intermediaries can help accelerate the translation of discoveries into solutions, and best practices into policy.

Connecting people and ideas

In recent years, Canada has invested heavily in a strategy designed to stimulate cross-sector collaborations. As part of this strategy, substantial opportunities are available to academic researchers aligning their work to the needs of Canadian industries, with the aim of producing actionable knowledge. For example, through an Alliance Grant managed by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, researchers from the University of Guelph are working with nonprofits that convene leaders in the dairy industry in order to explore technology-driven solutions to control infectious diseases while improving the overall sustainability of dairy farms. Getting academics, tech companies, and industry leaders together in this way can help fill skill gaps, break down information silos, and build bridges between innovators in various sectors.  

Demand-driven solutions

In the wake of the recent pandemic, and with uncertain economic news, many Canadians are justifiably concerned about their future career prospects. Too often, workers may overlook career opportunities in industries where there are real talent crunches, such as in tech. Some workers may feel they lack the right skills, while others are simply unaware of opportunities available in the digital economy. Palette Skills works exactly here as an innovation intermediary, using its upskilling programs to unlock the talent potential of job seekers, while building talent pools designed to meet industry needs. It’s a wide-ranging and collaborative approach that helps job-seekers, employers, and community partners develop lasting networks of support.

Join our ecosystem of partners

At Palette Skills, we know that nonprofit collaborations can bring together organizations with complementary missions, expertise, and resources to address complex social challenges and create a better Canada. By working together, nonprofits can share knowledge, leverage funding, and amplify impact. Collaborations foster innovation, encourage cross-sectoral partnerships, and lead to comprehensive and sustainable solutions that reach a wider range of individuals and communities. 

We want you to join us on our mission. As a national delivery partner for the recently announced Upskilling for Industry Initiative, Palette Skills will be working hard to help Canadians connect with new work opportunities. Sign up here to join our national partner ecosystem and get the latest news about our pan-Canadian upskilling initiatives, and learn how you can be involved.

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