European Venture Philanthropy Association partnered with MAZE to produce a report on the learnings from various examples of cross-sector collaboration for social outcomes.
The report draws on live cases to explore the implications of cross-sector collaboration, preconditions for success, governance arrangements, actionable learnings and key challenges. The examples encompass projects where the public, private and social sector collaborate in different ways (e.g. financially, operationally, etc.) towards common social outcomes.
With the support of a task-group composed of practitioners in the Venture Philanthropy and Social Investment sector, the following success factors for cross-sector collaboration were identified:
1. Boldness: tackling complex social challenges demands bold leadership, willingness to iterate and great flexibility to learn and adjust along the way. Successful projects generate momentum for a cross-sector partnership to engage in innovative or even disruptive strategies.
2. Responsible leadership in cross-sector partnerships: initiatives where the leading partner assumes an inclusive approach seem to achieve larger impact. Irrespective of its sector – social, public or private – the leading partner must be able to involve all other project partners in setting the objectives, implementing the action and measuring outcomes. This will increase the chances of success of the project and help it achieve greater outcomes.
3. Engagement and co-creation: the more each party is engaged in the process, the more traction it can generate. A strong sense of co-creation fosters a strong motivation and alignment of incentives. Taking time to build the relationship between all parties and building the case for collaboration from the outset is crucial before entering a project.
4. Making a match: initiators must find the right partners to cooperate with, in order to ensure a well-running design and implementation of cross-sector collaboration for social outcomes. Often, the right partners are not necessarily the most senior, but the most committed.