Determine the Type of Collaboration
Don’t assume that all potential partners share the same philosophy or level of experience on issues. When a person with a disability reported not feeling welcome or safe in an advisory committee, one pilot site realized that its partners needed training on how to treat each other’s opinions with mutual respect.
Depending on the time you have available and existing community relationships, you may want to develop collaborative partnerships, a formal advisory committee, or both.
- Collaborative partnerships consist of agencies and individuals working side by side with you to make changes that will improve your response to crime victims with disabilities. These partnerships include community members who have the power to make changes within their agencies or organizations as well as persons with disabilities. One benefit of partnerships is that groups can either begin with as many representatives as possible or can start with one or two partners and add more later. Although it may be easiest to involve only those organizations with which you are already connected, beginning with all of the key organizations at the table decreases the chance of offending others later or of working with insufficient information and potentially duplicating efforts. Most SafePlace model partnerships included between five and eight individual stakeholders or organizations.
- A formal advisory committee is exactly what it sounds like: a group that meets regularly that can provide feedback, identify community resources, help network, and drive overall project strategy. One benefit of advisory committees is that they can help formalize the process, keep an eye on the big picture, provide an external perspective, and keep the momentum going. A reasonable size for an advisory committee is 8–12 members.
Each pilot site approached this task differently. One focused on creating strong core partners who also provided feedback on strategy and functioned in advisory committee roles; one developed a basic advisory committee but relied much more heavily on partners; and the third developed both strong partnerships and a separate, fully active advisory committee. In each case, the sites worked to find people who could best promote change in their own agencies and the community.