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Bridging the Communication Gap

Tags: Forum for Civic Advancement

Sabrina Ragaller

Collaboration is quite the buzzword these days. Just next week, several of our staff members will be traveling to Fort Morgan for the latest installment of Rural Philanthropy Days (RPD), a program that seeks to build relationships between rural nonprofits and funders.

While RPD relies on face-to-face contact, thanks to the great strides that have been made in social media and communications technology, talking to each other is easier and cheaper than it has ever been. However, miscommunication or, more often, lack of communication is still a challenge despite the instant capability to email, post, tweet, and text every nugget of information imaginable. The problem is not the technology, it’s the user.

Even here at El Pomar, we fall into the trap of “Foundation speak,” and I’ve noticed that we Fellows have developed our own “Fellowship speak,” as well. At home with my family, saying that I am an “I”, from the Myers-Briggs Personality Test meaning introvert, is not a valid excuse for hiding in my room for hours. Telling my friends that I won’t be around because I must travel to the North gives the impression that I am on some spiritual journey.

Bottom line: We all know the same words, but we don’t always speak the same language. This is where the Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships (DOSP) comes in. DOSP helps bridge the communication gap that can form when organizations and sectors become isolated. DOSP works to produce a “common language” between nonprofits and the government by running workshops, connecting resources, and modeling the way to collaboration through its own creative partnerships. The office’s training program has seen great success; half of the participants in 2011 had formed a new cross-sector partnership in the six months after their training.

DOSP is changing collaboration from a worthy goal to the default of how nonprofits and government agencies work.  The office is also loaning us their director, Dace West, on June 19 for the Forum for Civic Advancement’s exciting event on Civic Innovation.

Interested in attending? Click here to RSVP.