Bucks, Montgomery nonprofits work toward partnerships

By Rebecca Guterman

KING OF PRUSSIA - Nonprofits that provide health services need to work together to better serve Bucks County residents, 23 representatives of about a dozen nonprofits agreed at a Wednesday roundtable at a Penndel restaurant.

Much of the conversation centered on the benefits and challenges of collaboration.

Everyone “needs to look up,” said Russell Johnson, president of the North Penn Community Health Foundation. “The way to begin a conversation about partnering and collaboration is to look someone in the eye.”

The North Penn Commons project was cited by Johnson as an example of successful collaboration among four Montgomery County organizations: Advanced Living Communities (an affordable housing developer); Manna on Main Street (a soup kitchen and food pantry); the North Penn YMCA; and the PEAK senior center. The organizations decided to extend their resources by sharing one property, according to Johnson.

Determining each organization’s strengths is a good place to start collaborating, he said.

“Why try to build competencies when one of your neighbors has it and is willing to share it,” he said. He pointed to the YMCA sharing fitness instructors with the PEAK center, rather than the PEAK center having to get their own instructors. He also reminded the audience to think about potential partnerships in terms of mission and funding.

“It’s not about the feel good, it’s really about the business transaction,” he said. “Every (organization) exists to make money … if they don’t make money, they can’t deliver services.”

Addressing the challenges of the North Penn Commons project, Johnson said the YMCA didn’t want smelly people walking around its facilities, until someone pointed out jokingly that gym users can be smelly, too.

The conversation later turned to the lack of a central repository for health-related agencies to share information. As a start, those attending the roundtable agreed to form a Facebook page to share information, and the HealthLink Medical Center in Southampton agreed to survey attendees about staff training priorities.

Amy Gianficaro, community affairs director for the Bucks County Courier Times, The Intelligencer and the Burlington County Times, gave attendees some quick tips on how to get their information to the media. Plan ahead, provide reminders, be specific, have backup if the reporter can’t attend your event and get to know reporters’ beats and editors, she advised.

The HealthLink Medical Center, a free clinic, and the United Way of Bucks County sponsored the roundtable.

From Rebecca Guterman. (2014, June 26). Bucks, Montgomery nonprofits work toward partnerships. Bucks County Courier Times. Retreived from:  http://www.buckscountycouriertimes.com/news/health-nonprofits-work-toward-partnerships/article_d5dd5938-2965-5d62-89c5-04fc6adf06ee.html