Founded in 1920, Community Gatepath is a large organization (160 full-time employees) serving children and adults with developmental disabilities. Their mission is to empower people with special needs to achieve their full potential through innovative, inclusive programs and community partnerships. Their programs encourage physical, developmental, and social well-being at all levels, including early intervention and therapy for children, inclusive preschools, support services for families, social communication programs for youth, vocational training for adults, and employment placement. Community Gatepath serves over 12,000 clients, family members, and professionals annually with a budget of $13.5mm.
Community Gatepath’s management is concerned about the level of costs incurred to support their infrastructure. In discussions with similar non-profits throughout San Mateo County, these overhead expenses are generally viewed as a common problem. Gatepath believes that there are opportunities for increased collaboration among these non-profits to share some services, thereby improving the efficiency for all and freeing up funds for program enhancements.
As a resident of the Sobrato center in Redwood City—a nonprofit center home to numerous organizations—Community Gatepath is a part of a collaborative environment with similar organizations.
Community Gatepath asked an ACT team to identify opportunities for expanding collaboration and use of shared services to increase efficiency across nonprofits throughout San Mateo County. Some questions the team addressed were:
- What are the greatest opportunities for collaboration?
- What services and resources can be shared to increase efficiency across nonprofits?
- How do we implement and gain buy-in for the recommendations?
1. Interview Community Gatepath staff to assess:
- interest in, motivation for and potential benefit of collaborating with nonprofits
- suitability for working in a shared services arrangement
- issues or challenges likely to be faced
2. Interview potential external partners (other nonprofits)
3. Research experience of prior and current efforts to share services among nonprofits
4. Investigate CG capacity to lead a shared services arrangement
5. Propose best alternatives for pursuing shared services
- Benchmark CG costs for valid comparison of alternatives
- Start small, pursuing ad hoc work with CEO’s of related organizations
- Share knowledge with peers - perhaps the most valuable way to collaborate
- Consider outsourcing, through which some shared services benefits may be achieved, at lower risk and time to break-even
- Apply for grants if interested in pursuing large scale shared services
- Most organizations interviewed lack the motivation and resources to pursue shared services.
- Pursuing shared services (other than outsourcing) of any scale will require dedicated resources and funding.