More Than One: Reflections on Successful Collaboration

Authored by: Erin Fleming, Graduate Assistant for Campus Programming, Office of Student Leadership Development


We often hear the word “collaboration” thrown around during our organization meetings. There tends to be so many events on campus, we try to collaborate in order to support initiatives held by two or more organizations. The basic concept, collaborations involve more than one organization. But beyond that, what does a successful collaboration look like?

Collaborative efforts can bring bigger publicity, more staffing, increased funding, and sometimes, it creates a much larger event. Successful collaborative efforts can change the entire experience of an event, but how do we get here?

In my undergraduate and professional experiences, I have found three things to be true about successful collaborations. They require effective communication, a shared vision, and a plan of action.  

Effective Communication

It may seem obvious, but to begin a collaboration there needs to be a targeted collaborator(s). This is an organization(s) that is interested in supporting your initiative and event. This is also an organization that is available to communicate frequently and often as you all work together in implementation.

Shared Vision

As you are initially communicating with your collaborator(s), before the planning begins, it is important to establish a shared vision. All organizations involved in the process should come together to establish shared goals, expectations, and a purpose for the event. By the end of this meeting, all collaborators should have the same understanding of what the event or initiative will look like. You may need to have several of these meetings throughout the planning process to maintain this shared vision.

Plan of Action

Once a vision is established, tasks should be delegated amongst the organizations. I have found greatest success when delegations are written down, then copied for each organization to take home. This way there are no questions as to who needs to do what. It also limits the risk of a task going undone because everyone is aware of what needs to happen to make the event successful.

Collaborative events have been some of my favorites. Organizations have the ability to meet new peers, become more familiar with other organizations, and expand their network around campus. Some of my favorite memories come from collaborative efforts. I wish the same for you!

This series also serves as a lead up to “Elevating Change Leadership Conference.” This is a conference for student leaders (and advisors) looking to learn more about effective leadership and cultivating impactful change for the causes and organizations they care most about. We hope you will join us for the conference on November 12th!  Please visit our website to learn more about the conference: