9 Ways to Use Outside Resources to Support Your Organization

RAFT Team, May 22, 2023

Supporting survivors of sexual violence and domestic abuse requires the collective effort of your organization’s advocates and external resources. These collaborations empower advocates, reduce their workload, and create a comprehensive support system for survivors. In this blog post, we'll explore nine practical steps that SV and DV advocates can take to use outside resources effectively, enabling them to make a lasting impact.

1. Inventory community resources

To empower advocates and enhance their support for survivors, it is vital to conduct a thorough assessment of available community resources. These local resources might be counseling services, health services, legal aid organizations, and community centers. Each should specialize in areas complementary to your organization's work. Once you understand the resources and expertise within the community, you're able to make strategic collaborations.

2. Establish partnerships

Building strong partnerships is key to empowering advocates and maximizing their impact. Proactively reach out to potential partner organizations, emphasizing shared goals and the reciprocal benefits of working together. By building these alliances, your organization gains access to a broader network of support and expertise.

3. Identify areas for collaboration

Once partnerships are established, identify specific areas where each organization can contribute its specialized expertise. This could involve leveraging counseling services for trauma-focused therapy, accessing legal aid organizations for legal support, or partnering with health services for specialized healthcare needs. Setting out specific roles and duties helps each partner to concentrate on the areas they are most proficient. It also guarantees survivors get comprehensive support.

4. Develop formal agreements

Where needed, establish formal partnerships through written agreements. These documents should outline the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of each organization. Be clear about the scope of work, resource-sharing, confidentiality, communication protocols, and how the partnership will be evaluated. Clarity here will help build trust with one another and the survivors with whom you all work.

5. Promote information sharing

Maintain open lines of communication with your partner organizations. Share relevant resources, training materials, research findings, and information about the services offered. You can do this through email updates, newsletters, shared online platforms, or periodic meetings. Stay informed about each other's programs, events, and initiatives. Update each other on emerging trends, best practices, and community needs. You'll quickly begin working as a team.

6. Provide referrals and follow-up

When appropriate, refer survivors to partner organizations for specialized services. Ensure a smooth transition by providing warm handoffs, sharing relevant client information (with consent), and maintaining communication throughout the referral process. Follow up with survivors to review their experiences.

7. Attend community meetings & events

Active participation in community coalitions, task forces, and events focused on sexual violence and domestic violence prevention strengthens the entire support system. By attending these gatherings, you can network with professionals and peers, share knowledge, collaborate on initiatives, and use outside resources. These interactions empower your organization by expanding your support network and providing opportunities for ongoing learning and growth.

8. Share workload & expertise

Collaboration extends beyond referrals and includes the sharing of workload and expertise among partner organizations. By exploring opportunities for cross-training, joint projects, or co-hosting workshops, your organization's staff can broaden their skill sets, expand their capacity, and enhance the quality and range of services you provide to survivors.

9. Consistently evaluate partnerships

Continue to assess the effectiveness of your partnerships through ongoing evaluation. Establish a way to measure the impact of collaborations on survivors, organizational efficiency, and the quality of services provided. Regularly ask for feedback from partner organizations and survivors to identify strengths, areas for improvement, and any necessary adjustments to maximize the benefits of collaboration.

Empowering advocates to use outside resources is vital. By forging partnerships, advocacy organizations enhance the support they provide. Specialized knowledge, expanded networks, and comprehensive support systems give your advocates more options for their survivors.

These collaborations make sure that survivors receive the best possible care, while advocates are equipped with the tools and resources to make a lasting impact in their work. Together we can build a stronger, more effective response to sexual and domestic violence, empowering advocates and supporting survivors on their journey towards healing and justice.