Collaboration Toolkit

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Define Your Intentions with Key Materials

Now that you’ve brought partners together, you’ll want to harness that initial energy and clearly articulate your group’s intentions. Formalize the collaborative relationship by jointly developing a statement of purpose. This development process clarifies the commitment among the partners and enables you to easily define your effort to external stakeholders.

Vision Statement is also known as:

  • Mission Statement.
  • Memorandum of Understanding.
  • Statement of Purpose and Commitment.
  • Letter of Intent.

Why Do We Need a Vision Statement?

Developing a written statement for members to sign can identify common goals and solidify the collaborative, so it is recommended that groups move to do this early in the process.

If your vision statement recognizes the value of recognizing multiple benefits of protecting your drinking water sources, it can help engage partners and other stakeholders. The water in your community likely supports public health and economic sustainability for your community. Your local water bodies (including ground water) might be a valued source of recreation, habitat for animals and birds of value to hunters or birders, essential to community businesses, or an important influence on a neighboring community’s water quality.

What Can It Include?

Developing a short statement of guiding principles can be a foundation for your group. Identifying your priorities can help move the group toward action. You may also develop agreement on how you intend to work together in a separate document.

  • A clear vision or mission statement with desired outcomes.
  • Goals and objectives of the partnership.
  • Organizational structure.
    • How you intend to work.
    • Member requirements commitments.
    • Guidelines for bringing on new members.
  • Clear delineation of roles and responsibilities.
    • Leadership roles and decision-making process.
    • Grant/financial management (if needed).
  • Signatures from all partners.

Sample Collaborative Statements of Purpose

National Source Water Collaborative
North Carolina Source Water Collaborative
Schuylkill Action Network
Lower Yakima (WA) Valley Groundwater Management Area Advisory Committee
ELANCO (PA) Mission Statement
USR RWMG Mission Statement

Schedule a Visioning Meeting

A draft agenda might include:

  • Brainstorm ground rules and broader norms.
  • Define the geographic area(s) and problem(s) this group can effectively address.
    • Note that some collaboratives add more issues or expand their scope over time. In the beginning, it’s important to set tangible goals.
  • Examine the strengths of your collaborative. Outline where you can have a unique impact. Focus on your reasons for collaboration. These might include:
    • Addressing a multi-disciplinary issue: No one group has all the expertise, skills and abilities to achieve the desired goals and outcomes.
    • Cross-Jurisdictional Coordination: The land that protects drinking water sources often crosses political boundaries and effective solutions may require collaboration with other community leaders or with regional organizations.
    • Innovation/Problem Solving: Bringing in new perspectives, solutions to problems.
    • Resource Limitations: Pooling Resources (time, efforts, funds) to meet goals.
    • Information Sharing/Enhance Coordination.
  • Discuss what success might look like.
  • Draft a vision statement. Depending on the time and energy of the group, this step may need to occur at a later time, or with a subset of the group.

Create an “Elevator Speech”

  • Be ready to quickly explain your collaborative to take advantage of opportunities to engage interest.
  • Remember to tailor your speech to the listener.
  • Make it clear what you’re asking the listener to do.
  • Expect people to listen for what’s in it for them.
  • Prepare a few variations if your collaborative focuses on various topics.

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