Collaboration among independent entities involves a different approach and set of skills than coordination within an organization, where there are clear lines of authority and accountability. A collaborative partnership often involves establishing new relationships and channels of communication among the partners.
Collaboration among independent organizations usually involves some type of agreement, either formal or informal, between the partners. Such agreements often articulate the partnership’s goals, how work is to be accomplished and directed, what resources each partner is expected to contribute to the effort, how disagreements or differences of opinion among the partners will be resolved and how results will be evaluated.
Local officials may collaborate with a variety of organizations in efforts to create healthier neighborhoods. Typical examples of local officials’ collaborative partners include:
- Other local public agencies, such as neighboring cities and counties, redevelopment and housing agencies, school districts, special districts (like park and recreation districts), transit operators and regional agencies.
- Private sector organizations, such as energy utilities, health-care insurance companies, business associations and individual businesses.
- Nonprofit and community-based organizations, such as community clinics and other health providers, social service organizations, youth groups, environmental groups, and neighborhood associations, as well as local academic institutions.
- Philanthropic organizations and foundations, which often contribute funding, technical assistance and other support to local collaborative partnerships.
Partnering with local health departments in particular can help launch and support efforts at all stages of the process because, in addition to data and information, they have the ability to educate and mobilize communities for change. Local agencies can encourage local public health departments to review and comment on the health impacts of land-use decision-making to ensure that public health interests are identified and protected.