Partnership is defined is an agreement or contract between two or more parties that is undergone to perform a set of tasks, activities, and projects to achieve desired goals and objectives that mutually benefits all the parties involved.

In today’s world, we have seen that partnership happens between the same as well as different sectors. When the partnership is between two sectors we call it bilateral partnership, when the partnership is among three sectors, we call it tri-sector partnership.

Typically, the triangle of partnership engages state, market, and civil society. By state, I mean the government,   by market I mean for profit organization, and civil societies are non-profit organization, mostly having community oriented goals.

Partnership is all about collaboration. On daily basis, we see partnership such as public private partnership – which is undergone between the state and the profit making organization mostly carried out for infrastructural development. Then we also hear about partnership between non-profit and public partnership – which is between the state and civil societies. Then we also happen to hear about profit and non-profit partnerships, which is between for profit and nonprofit organizations such as corporate social responsibility. In which, mostly profit making organization engages civil societies to achieve the desired community development goals.

No matter, what kind of partnership is or with what sector it is, there is a set of rule of that one has to follow to make it faster, clear, effective, and efficient.

1) Asses what you have to offer and what you want to achieve:

Before going for a partnership, read the organization website, reports, and if possible has some informal meetings with some employees of the organization to have an insight of the organization. Once you go through the initial research process, you will be able to asses that what you are offering and you want to achieve is all available there. Sometime, we make efforts on the list at our end but we forgot for what the organization is looking for. The assessment part of your offering and have a clear vision of what you want to achieve will help you to make your partnership goals clear and precise – which is always helpful.

2) Align your goals and priorities:

Once you assess what you are offering and what you want to achieve, gauge them with you shared values and shared goals. If this was aligned with your shared values and goals, go for it, and it can be proved to be a successful partnership. If not, then refusing the partnership at the early stage is quite better than getting late. Once you are late, the partnership become complex and you won’t have the luxury to terminate it. In this case, the best exercise is to clearly see their CSR policy for corporations and yearly reports for the civil society organization. These documents will help in analyzing that the shared values and goals are matching with or not. If not, then thinking about other will be a better option.

3) Cultivate:

In first two steps, you get the idea where to go for partnership. Then you have to adapt strategies for to connect with the partners that you think (based on your research) can be beneficial for you and is aligned with your shared value and goals. At this stage you should have completed all your background work because here you are supposed to showcase your skillset, organization, and potential prospects. The most important is to be ready to impress the partner which is only possible if you have completed all your background work and have identified mutual prospects, and what you’re bringing to the table – because partnership is all about helping each other to achieve the desired goals.

4) Steward:

At this stage, you have almost finalized the partner to go with. You create shared vision for your partnership, set clear expectations, limits, you objectify what you can and only promise for that, and provide details for each and every thing. The most important is to not keep thing apart of the curtain and don’t hide anything.

There should be no surprise – establish trust and set expectations. Communicate everything clearly and regularly.

5) Review:

Here comes the part of monitoring and evaluation. Set a clear vision for monitoring and evaluating the partnership, and set the intervals and time period for M&E activities. Reflect on what you have achieved so far, what has benefited you (partnership) and what not, what has worked and what has not worked. Compile the lessons learned so that you can use for future projects and partnerships. Share with the larger groups the key takeaways from the partnership.

6) Refine:

Based on reflections, and lesson learned, refine the process to make it better, effective, and efficient.

Note: The blog is based on Point of Lights conference that I attended last week.  

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