Partnering with other charities or businesses enables your organization to achieve greater social impact than you would alone. The concept is not new, however the sophistication and expectations of partnerships have evolved.
We live in interesting times as charities grapple with finding innovative ways to both secure resources and deliver sustainable services or programs to their expanding base. To make the desired social impact you have to work differently and look outside the organization.
You can develop greater organizational prowess, find more creative solutions and achieve more with others than you do when you are on your own.
Partnerships can be effective, keeping in mind the following 10 tips:
- Select partnerships that are complementary brands to your own and the general public understands the connection. The public perception of the brand(s) on their own and when co-branded should enhance your standing in the community and avoid eroding any goodwill.
- The relationship should be a strategic alignment where both organizations agree on why and how they intend to work together to achieve the shared strategic goals of the partnership.
- While a partnership may appear favourable on the surface, it is prudent to conduct a benefit analysis of the relationship. Asking the tough questions about financial risk, leveraging expenses and potential costs of exiting the relationship are important matters to address before formalizing any agreement.
- Have a clear, written agreement outlining each other’s responsibilities. When it comes to engagement and the terms of collaboration, well articulated agreements help identify partners’ expectations and key deliverables in the relationship.
- Is the executive leadership actively supportive of the partnership? When the executive leader(s) of both parties are actively engaged in the success of the partnership you are more apt to achieve the desired social impact. Lay out an engagement plan.
- Open and honest dialogue throughout the relationship is critical. You can avoid communication breakdowns or perceptions of a lack of transparency, if both parties are proactive and develop communication strategies to mutually satisfy the relationship.
- Take the long view. Any worthwhile endeavor takes time to bear fruit and like many workplace relationships they take time to achieve results. It’s essential to be plan realistic timelines.
- When it comes to crafting legal arrangements ensure all parties are aware of Canadian Revenue Agency’s (CRA) charity rules to avoid potential breach or risk to your charitable status or partnership.
- Partners who articulate how the relationship will be evaluated and the social impact measured tend to have greater success. To create a climate of transparency, accountability and a culture of continuous improvement agree on what gets measured, the methodology and reporting procedures in advance.
- Celebrate success – big or small – together. Commonly partners want to communicate their achievements publicly and to their own stakeholder community. Have a written strategy that includes events, social media and other communication initiatives. Achieving greater social impact is a wonderful story to tell and should be celebrated!
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