Seven Steps to Creating a Successful Non- Profit Partnership

Published on 6th February 2020

Institutional donors, in an attempt to reduce their own administration now prefer to channel large sums of money through consortia or partnership arrangements. These partnerships are thought to capitalize on the strengths of the for-profit sector to enhance the work of the non-profit or not-for-profit sector.

The theory behind these partnerships is valid and, when done successfully, can create great synergy between the difference sectors. A functional synergistic relationship will bridge the gap between short- term humanitarian interventions and longer term sustainable development. This article shares learnings from the development of one such successful partnership.

Seven Steps for Success:

1. Choose Your Partners Carefully:
There are often vast differences in the values adopted by For Profit and Non-Profit Organizations. Take the time to explore these values with partners to be sure that you are truly becoming involved for reasons that are compatible. Study the vision and mission statement of the organization and invest the time in visiting and finding out about previous work that they have carried out as well as their
reputation in those communities.

2. Carefully Articulate the Desired Outcomes of the Collaboration
It is essential that you know what it is you wish to accomplish and are clear with your partner as to the outcome that is to be achieved, specific interim goals that must be met and who is responsible for delivering what outcome.

3. Write a Detailed Contract
While it is important to document the roles, responsibilities and outcomes of each of the partners in the project, it is equally important at this stage to agree a full cost recovery budget. This ensures that expectations are managed appropriately during project implementation.

4. Set up a Representative Committee
The membership of the committee that is formed to guide the project should be determined at the time the contract is established. As part of defining this committee, remember to define voting rights and to be sure that the voting rights are appropriate to supporting the achievement of the desired outcome of the project. It is also important to think about empowering all participants and thus, weighting the
voting to one partner would need careful consideration regarding possible negative ramifications. The question to ask is ; Will all partners be able to achieve their desired outcome through this committee structure?

5. Make as Many Decisions as Possible by Consensus
While it is important to have the voting rights defined, it is even more important to make every effort to make decisions by consensus. Voting as a means of overcoming a difference of opinion should be the last resort as it means that someone wins and someone loses. This will change the dynamics of the group and make it hard for everyone to feel they are being heard and respected.

6. Select the Chairperson of the Committee Carefully
The chairperson of the committee should be someone who is able to see the project from the perspective of all participants and respect all that each partner brings to the objective. This person should also be a good negotiator and able to help the group over any rough spots that are encountered as they feel their way into the project.

7. Celebrate Successes
When you achieve a milestone in the development of the project find ways to celebrate the achievement. Make sure you recognize the contributions of all partners and that one partner is not being singled out for congratulations or celebration. Following these 7 steps to success will hopefully lead you, as it did us, to a successful outcome. It likely will not be smooth sailing at first, there will be bumps along the way that you will overcome. Recognize that these are expected and find innovative ways to ensure that all partners are happy with the
outcome. Lastly, do not lose contact with partners at the end of the project, a successful ongoing partnership or relationship will ease the burden of future projects when another collaboration is needed.

Findev Consulting Limited is a UK based consultancy that provides grant management training to NGOs and civil society organisation. We have worked with numerous nonprofits across 3 continents, focusing on proposal development, strategic planning and project evaluation.

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