Bridging the Gap – Introduction

Collaboration is a complex process that is like building a bridge. Whether the divide is large or small, a detailed plan and resources (structural, human, and financial) are needed. Bridge building involves synchronized action, clear communication, and trust. A clear goal is paramount because delays and disruptions can be expected during the process. The completed bridge requires local ownership, upkeep, and maintenance as needs and use evolve.

The reward for this collaborative building effort is a sustainable enduring infrastructure that will support future collaborative projects. With strong partnerships built on knowledge gained and shared, new roads will be accessible for the next level of community change!


“An often missing but critical part of achieving social change is supporting individuals who can make connections outside of a field of advocacy or practice…. To make change, philanthropy needs to invest not just within a field, but also in people and organizations that can bridge the gaps between issues and sectors.”

Lisa Witter & Joanna Mikulsk – Stanford Social Innovation Review  Dec. 22, 2015

Collaboration Primer Content

The main text in each section of this primer combines details on the collaborative factors and most promising practices identified in current research and from the Harmonization Project’s developmental evaluation. Also included is a Collaborative Framework that highlights the collaborative factors in diagram form. Useful tools and tips, reflective anecdotes, helpful web links, and further reading are found throughout the primer. Finally, throughout this document suggestions, tips and tools are included as follows:

Example of Word to the Wise

Word to the Wise

Additional advice or information that future collaborators may find useful are offered.

Living Lab

Living Lab

Anecdotes and examples from our team’s collaborative experiences are featured.

Stories and Sharing

Stories and Sharing

Quotes and excerpts illustrate topics or issues in the text.

Useful Tools

Useful Tools

Links to websites are provided for more information and access to relevant tools.