One of the valid criticisms of the nonprofit sector is that organizations too often duplicate services, which leads to significant inefficiencies in the sector. I am always on the lookout for organizations that address this problem and bring nonprofits together in innovative ways. So I was intrigued when I first heard about AID for Africa yesterday at the Opportunity Collaboration, the “un”conference on global poverty alleviation I am attending in Ixtapa, Mexico. I had the opportunity to learn more about AID for Africa directly from executive director Barbara Rose, also at the Opportunity Collaboration.

AID for Africa is a partnership of 80 nonprofits addressing a wide range of issues in sub-Saharan Africa.  All of the member organizations are based in Africa, but they must be registered in the U.S. To become a member, the organizations must also meet specific tests of governance, programmatic impact, and fiscal accountability—including commissioning an annual audit. Barbara explained to me how this alliance has allowed the nonprofits to use a powerful US funding opportunity: the U.S. government’s Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). The CFC is the federal government’s annual workplace charity campaign, a program that was established by President John Kennedy in 1961.

The federal government has about four million employees, said Barbara, and over one million employees use payroll deductions for charitable giving. They choose from about 4,000 organizations, and last year gave close to $300 million. AID for Africa is the only network of African nonprofits that are part of the CFC, according to Barbara. The financial benefit of being part of the CFC is a powerful draw for members, who also benefit from being grouped together on the AID for Africa website with its online donation facility. AID for Africa takes a small percentage of the donations, making the organization financially sustainable. Barbara also works with AID for Africa members to help them find ways to collaborate and draw on each others’ strengths.

AID for Africa’s model seems like a smart way to bring nonprofits together where they can leverage their combined presence. What are some other examples of nonprofits that pull groups of nonprofits together in innovative ways?

Read a related post, “What Are You Doing on World Poverty Eradication Day?.”