While organizational capacity was largely about the inner workings of a lake group, relational capacity focuses outward towards groups and individuals who can be of assistance to a lake group and/or benefit from collaborating with a lake group. Ideally, the collaborative relationship works both ways and both parties benefit from working together. Collaboration is the basis of the Wisconsin Lakes Partnership model of lake management: local lake groups and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources mutually benefit when landowners around a lake take actions to protect and restore lake health. Each member of the partnership generally seeks to leverage its strengths: the DNR has access to funding and technical expertise, while property owners and lake groups are regularly "on the lake" and can often muster volunteers and donations needed to get lake health projects completed. Building relationships that lead to restoration success requires thoughtful work on the part of a lake group. Our list of good practices includes:
Identifying Allied Organizations: Communicating with other groups whose work overlaps with the mission of your organization.
Partnering: Co-hosting events with other groups that are intended to generate dialogue about the common purpose of the organizations, completing a specific task, or fundraising to support a shared goal.
Shared Networks: Encouraging opportunities for volunteering with other organizations, such as the recruitment of a shared board member.
Identifying Community Consensus: Conducting a gap analysis, such as a community survey, to identify how your organization’s missions meets a broadly shared community need.
Approaching Decision-makers: Input has been solicited from local, state, or other elected officials about their priorities and what governmental resources may exist to support your organization’s mission.
This list is hardly conclusive, but it gives you a good jumping off point for looking at what your lake organization currently does and considering what it could work on next.
Access Relational articles from Lake Tides:
Summer/Fall 2018 - Relational Capacity
Summer/Fall 2019 - Relational Capacity
Summer/Fall 2020 - Building Allies