There is the old adage from Aristotle that says, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. The premise is that a coalition of non-profit organizations could generate more impact than if they toiled alone in their individual silos.
What is a partnership? In a generic sense, it means to share resources to reach a common goal.
Today’s non-profit organizations are highly encouraged to collaborate with other groups, including fellow non-profits, business, or government agencies. Rather than competing for resources, organizations could cooperate and possibly be more effective. There is opportunity to combine our collective intelligence and experience.
What could partners possibly offer? Partners could provide advice, materials, meeting space,
funding, or a wider reach than what you could possibly achieve on your own. Think about whom
within the community would make a good partner. Reach out to them to convey what your goals
are and how they could benefit.
Prior to forming a partnership, certain considerations should be taken into account. What is the
purpose of coming together? What are the key priorities of the partnership? Will the partnership
add value? Is there a shared vision or mutual goals? Are the partners compatible? How will the
partners communicate effectively? What risks or barriers could derail the partnership?
Expect some financial costs when forming a partnership. Allocate some money to pay for
incidentals incurred during the partnership. That being said, the return on your financial investment could be priceless. For example, in return for your newfound collaboration, you might gain access to valuable expertise. A new networking opportunity could possibly result in substantial cost savings.
A common understanding of the partnership is necessary. A written agreement outlining the
purpose, goals, scope, each partner’s responsibilities, decision-making method, timelines, budget, communication, and reporting method should be developed together.
A partnership can create something wonderful that benefits everyone involved. Try to create a
relationship and not just a deal. Take time to establish trust between your organization and your
partner(s). Trust can go a long way in a partnership. Those connections often last beyond the
Working together and sharing resources is a choice, but in some cases it is the rule. Some funded agencies are expected to collaborate for efficiencies. When we recognize this trend and learn how to join forces, then we are better positioned to propose or enter into a partnership. Aristotle would be pleased.
Working in Partnership