There are many different roles that organizations can play in terms of their relationship with each other, such as:
- Convener: initiates a public discussion of a community issue
- Catalyst: provides initial leadership and credibility but is committed to a longer-term strategy
- Conduit: acts as the “lead” organization in that it manages the necessary contractual and financial obligations that come with receiving grants. It is important that the conduit not be allowed to dominate the initiatives as a result of taking on this role
- Funder: provides financial resources, and may also be actively involved in the design and evaluation of the project. A clear understanding of the scope and limit of their authority is required.
- Technical Assistance Provider: provides data, technical information, professional opinions or particular skills
- Capacity-Builder: provides resources and skills training to community members to increase their ability to effect change. Capacity-builders aim to increase skills, knowledge and resources, but also community power and ownership.
- Partner: shares in risks, responsibility, investment and rewards.
- Advocate: focuses on changing policy or systems
- Community Organizer: interested in who is “at the table”; i.e. who is involved and who has decision-making power. The community organizer works to maximize community participation and to ensure that those who are traditionally excluded from decision-making are included as full partners in the process.
- Facilitator: assists in community problem-solving process by liaising among various players and being a source of fairness, encouragement
- Evaluator: provides information about how well the collaborative is performing and whether its objectives are being met.