It is true that when I created this blog I set out to discuss my vision, philosophy and models of effective partnerships: and share my utter dismal mistakes. As readers would know from even a cursory review of my blogs I see partnerships everywhere in life as I do air. The problem is too often the air is polluted.

When we stop and take a look at singular events in our community we see the role individuals and organizations fill to carry them off without fail. They are complex processes that require creativity, analytics, resources from fibre to steel, blood, sweat, tears, brawn and of course cold hard cash. When all these pieces are brought together by a great conductor they sing a happy song. A song that praises the unseen partnerships.

From the sidelines this looks like a well rehearsed orchestra. But in fact it is an event  beyond complicated, it is full of complexities as with all living organisms and processes involving bits that can not be controlled.

What is a Complicated event?

Today at 1801 Hollis St Drop Zone was hosted by Easter Seals Nova Scotia. Simply put 30 volunteers repelled down Halifax’s tallest building. Each volunteer pledged to raise $1,500 each to earn a spot in the drop. The public, staff, donors, board members, volunteers and media came to watch and celebrate in the spectacle: which did cause more than one frustrated bus driver…

Sounds simple? Now consider that every person responsible for putting on the day was first delegated or contracted in a role some time ago. In the case of Michelle Mahoney, Board member and repeller it started when she was born with Arthrogryposis. A condition that forever shaped her life – not constrained it- today she repelled for her third time and at last count exceeded $3,000 this year. For Michelle being involved started years ago through a recognition of the need for Nova Scotia to do more to improve access and inclusion for persons with different abilities; a desire triggered by circumstances of birth.

Then lets consider the outfitters for the day. Thirty volunteers nor the board were going to hire any dude with a rapelling kit from MEC. The safety of volunteers can not be risked. The liability of Easter Seals needs to be covered by insurance: imagine the consequences of a fatality. As a complicated event it has complicated pieces, and Tacten Industrial Ltd. has the skills, equipment and expertise to provide a safe and enjoyable experience; they come with over 20 years of experience; and an ISO rating (whatever that means).

In between all of those pieces are EDs,Presidents, PMs, DOFs… and other staff that do all of the administrative duties and deep thinking to maximize the fundraising and awareness raising potential and script for the day.  This includes all sorts of departmental log frames and drop calls, shoulder rubbing, outreach, contracting, media twisting, number crunching, social media peddling and even a few hours of sleep. Sounds simple? But hold on, they are a team of individuals that have been brought together by a cause, for a cause.

The non-profit staff is an interesting creature. They often have claws and teeth for a good reason. They must. It is their goal in life to make a difference where others turn the other direction, are too busy or frankly don`t care about the cause or any other cause for that matter.  Making a decision to work in the non-profit space is a huge commitment. Individuals in this field are highly educated (multiple degrees and diplomas the norm), experienced, analytical, multilingual, with huge hearts that can often double their income by moving into government or the private space of the economy. But wait, they don`t leave. They stay to make Nova Scotia a more civiliazed place to call home and indirectly promote to the world.

What pulls all these pieces together is the dollar. The dollar comes in many forms, hard cash, volunteers hours, in lieau services and products to name a few. All provided by a range of sponsors and donors. They range in shape and size: all for another blog. What is essential is that there must be a strong fit. A fit driven by cause, culture or perhaps a deeper and yet more complicated connection called friendship or connection. A fit with a personal or corporate mandate, a thin one or a large obvious mandate of the two organizations. As a member of a board I once sat on coached me years ago, don’t ask for something you can`t return in the future through cash or kind.

These bits and pieces come together through a long process. For some of them it started at birth, others their marketable expertise, corporate social responsibility, government mandate, media bylines and still others passion and humility. I would be bereft if I forgot you, the potential volunteer or individual donor deciding IF to give a frog or buck.

What is my point? All the complicated pieces can and do come together more often than not. Partnerships of many forms and layers are brought together and executed to fantastic results for all involved. If this example was too simple to get my point across, think about all the pieces that go into building the Bowing DC10 we all fly through the skys without much if any concern for plunging to the earth in a ball of fire. I should be honest here, I never take a flight without that thought crossing my mind at least twice.

Now lets consider the complexities, just briefly.

  • An earthquake could have hit during the day.
  • A gun man could have shut down downtown Halifax as it did in Ottawa a few years ago.
  • The municipal government could decide that a volunteer plunging to the streets of Halifax would be bad for its profile.
  • A  scandal could have occurred that shook the confidence in the organization.

The complexities of many people, places and things are uncontrollable despite best efforts at planning and risk management  This is an area of inquiry that needs to be better understood in all aspects of life, work, production, governance, manufactuaring and research. Our communities and the world needs those of us that can, to do. Complicated and complexities influency every step and breath we take.

Perhaps this journey made you think a bit more about the complexities of partnerships and even more about the complexities that can come to play with them and all aspects of lime.

Having use the Easter Seals Nov Scotia Drop Zone for my example I should offer you the chance to help raise funds and thus join this crucial partnership driven to make our world, our communities and economies more civiliazed.

Easter Seals Nova Scotia Drop Zone

Attending the United Way Halifax Local Love Halifax on the waterfront one could not be remiss to notice all the red shirts, like the red army. This army was comprised of VOLUNTEERS committed to making our city a better place for all. As JFK said “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” My hat is off to everyone that made the event wonderful to attend; not just the brave (nuts) that swam across the Halifax Harbour.

Just as important as the red shirts were all the athletes that gathered to swim the harbour in Halifax and around the province. These individuals represented so many parts of our communities; reminded us that together, and only together can organizations like the United Way achieve their mission to End Poverty Together.

For more information on the great work of United Way Halifax visit them at:

United Way Halifax