Forming strong partnerships among a diverse group of organizations is key step in creating a successful nonprofit association. This initiative reflects broad-based community involvement. Developing and maintaining these relationships can be a challenge, so it is important that nonprofits work to inspire their partners to get involved and stay involved. Here are a few things that can be done to elicit the support of outside organizations and foster strong relationships.
Develop a Shared Vision
Partnerships are guided by a shared vision and purpose. Each partner must understand and agree to the desired goals. This leads to improved coordination of members, policies, and programs. Shared decision-making is also an essential part of working toward a common purpose.
Strong leadership is critical to moving any initiative forward, and in a partnership, it’s also important to share the responsibility of leading the charge. If one organization takes over and carries more than their fair share, it might imply that there is not mutual trust between the two organizations. When both partners lead collaboratively, they build mutual respect, learn from each other, and play to each other’s strengths to achieve a common goal.
Shared Culture and Values
Similarly to developing a shared vision, partners should also have a mutual understanding of each other’s values and be accepting of differences. Partners need to have open discussions about their organizational cultures so they can identify their strengths and weaknesses. When partners respect each other’s values and regard each other as equals, it will foster the long-term growth of each organization.
If a partnership is going to succeed, there must be effective communication between all parties involved. This includes all levels of the organization. From the beginning of the relationship, all feedback and proposed ideas should be openly communicated in order to deliver important information to stakeholders in a timely manner.
In order for a partnership to be successful, it requires dedication and commitment from all participants. Lack of commitment or unwilling participants will create a barrier to working effectively. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a clearly stated purpose, delineation of responsibilities, and deliverables should be agreed to when entering into a new partnership. As the relationship evolves, the partners must work together to resolve any conflicts or issues that might arise with members.
Successful partnerships include appropriate structure and management practices. Resources need to be in place to achieve the desired goals of the partnership. Members must demonstrate accountability for their actions and take responsibility for delivering on their objectives.
The goal of partnerships is to achieve more than individual organizations can achieve on their own. Establishing a successful partnership takes time, but creating the right framework, communicating effectively, sharing leadership, and working collaboratively can promote a strong partnership that will be effective and long-lasting.