Covid-19 and Friends

As concerns about COVID-19 continue to escalate, we as members of the Friends community supporting U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sites need to think about how we can protect our health and well-being as well as that of volunteers, staff, visitors, and members of our organizations. Our lives and communities are changing so quickly that it’s difficult to know how to proceed, so we would like to start a dialogue and provide some resources.

First, it’s important for us to follow the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and our state and local health departments. Please check these sites regularly for guidance and updates.

Remember that, as nonprofits, we have a legal ‘duty of care.’ For those not familiar with this concept, it means your board has the responsibility to act in a reasonable and prudent manner when making decisions. Following the guidance of the CDC and your health departments would constitute a reasonable standard of care as you decide whether to move forward, postpone, or cancel your activities and programs. Of course, as your board works on making reasonable decisions, it’s vital to communicate with refuge staff.

Stay in touch with your members and volunteers and inform them of board decisions. Let them know what is happening and if there are ways they can help. Phone calls may be especially effective ways to keep in touch with key members as well as those without email. Don’t know where to start with a written message? Here’s a letter from the Friends of the Wichitas that may offer ideas you can use.

If your board can’t get together to make these decisions, then try a teleconference or virtual meeting. If this would be something new for your group, then check out Jonathan Poisner’s recent post in the Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates (CORFA) Facebook group for tips about conducting successful “virtual” meetings.

CORFA’s Facebook group is a place for Friends to share ideas and stay in touch. If you’re not a member, you are welcome to join! Besides offering postings on subjects important to Friends and advocates nationwide, every Wednesday the site features a posting, by Linda Kilgore, with information about webinars that can help you build a stronger organization. Some of these webinars cover subjects related to COVID-19; for example, legal and insurance issues and guidelines for conducting remote meetings.

Or perhaps your group is one of the many cancelling, postponing, or altering the format of an outreach or fundraising event. If so, you may want to take advantage of a free or low-cost webinar offered by one of the consulting groups supporting nonprofits to weather the current situation. Check the CORFA page for options.

This is a time for us to be creative as we continue to work on supporting our organizations, refuges, and communities, and the CORFA Facebook group is a place for us to brainstorm and share resources. Please check the site regularly for new ideas and resources.

Stay healthy and let’s stay connected!

Regards,
Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates

Photo credit: Greg Kramos/USFWS

News from The Link: Fall 2019

Photo with Senator Merkley (OR)

National Wildlife Refuge Association Board Members Chad Brown (left) and service dog Axe and Cheryl Hart (right) with Senator Merkley (OR)

Welcome to the second edition of The Link! This newsletter was written by Friends, for Friends, in collaboration with the Refuge Association and the Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates (CORFA).

In this edition we focus on advocacy, a topic that creates confusion. Read how Friends are speaking up for their mission and in the process educating their lawmakers. The Friends of Tennessee share their advocacy efforts and accomplishments.

We want to hear from you! Take the short survey and let us know how we can be a valuable resource for you.

We hope that you enjoy The Link.

Articles in the fall edition of The Link

  • Friends as Advocates
    5 great ideas to engage your legislators
  • Speaking Up for Your Mission
    All about advocacy and lobbying. Do you know what your nonprofit can do?
  • Focus on Friends: Tennessee NWR
    Get to know this Friends Group of the Year (FGY), set your sights on being the next FGY!
  • Survey
    Got something you’d like to see covered in future issues of The Link? What questions would you like answered? Would you like your Friends group featured in a future issue? Share your thoughts and questions in the survey.

Partnerships that are Just Right

goldilocks2Just like Goldilocks searching for the just right porridge, chair or bed; partnerships need to be just right.

Some partnerships require little trust, some a little more, and others a lot.
Some partnerships need a little time, others a little more, and others even more.

Some partnerships only share information and others share everything.
Some partnership have a very loose structure while others are highly formalized.

Just like Goldilocks your organization needs to find what is just right for you. Unlike Goldilocks if both partners agree on what is just right for them there is no need to run, you want to stay around.

The right partnership depends on:

  • Reason for forming the partnership
  • Trust between the partners
  • Time available to invest in the partnership
  • Willingness to share turf
  • Structure for the groups’ interaction
  • Decision-making process
  • Ability to share resources
  • Benefits to each organization

Partnerships move along a continuum from informal networking to collaboration, where partners share their resources to accomplish a mutual goal. Your position on the continuum depends on what you want to accomplish. As the partners increase their trust in each others competencies they tend to move towards integrating decision-making authority. (See table)

The partnership between a community group, such as Friends, and a government agencies comes with challenges. The organizations often have divergent needs and cultures. However, that is why the partnership is so beneficial. Friends are part of the community and have the potential to access resources not readily available to government agencies. The Service brings their competency and passion for wildlife management. Together they enhance each others capacity to achieve their mission and joint vision.

Creating and maintaining a successful partnership takes planning. The trust, time and effort each organization contributes moves the partnership towards collaboration. It is not practical for every partnership to aim for collaboration, what is necessary is finding that sweet spot were both partners know whatever form of partnership they have is just right for them.

The following table provides guidance on the different forms of partnerships, their purpose, necessary trust levels, time commitment, and resource sharing. It outlines the structure of the partnership, joint decision-making and benefits. This research helps you determine where your organization is on the partnership continuum and what is needed to get to that “just right” spot for you and your partner.

Partnership Continuum

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Partnership Continuum table

Adapted from Collaboration (Lessons Learned Series). AASL, Fall, 1996.
Bernard Bull, The Difference Between Networking, Coordinating, Cooperating, and Collaborating

http://www.northeastcapt.org/products/srategies/collaboration/collaborationpaper.html
http://www.buildinitiative.org/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/resource-center/community-systems-development/1B%201%20Types%20of%20Partnerships%20Continuum%20of%20Coordination.pdf

Thomas Kayser, True Collaboration Is a Partnership: Six Ingredients for Making it So

Joan Patterson currently serves on the board of Friends of the Duck Stamp/Migratory Bird and was the former Director of Grassroots Outreach of the National Wildlife Refuge Association and board member for the Friends of Tualatin River NWR and the Friends of Potomac River Refuges.

Resources:
http://www.strengtheningnonprofits.org/resources/guidebooks/Partnerships.pdf
Public Lands Alliance,
Best Practices Establishing a Partnership Model for America’s Public Lands
Stephen M. R. Covey,
The Speed of Trust