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To Partner or Not to Partner? That Is the Nonprofit's Question

April 15, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 193

Faced with stretched budgets many nonprofits have turned to partnerships in order to provide services or programming for their constituents. Partnerships can take many forms but these guidelines apply to nonprofits partnering with other nonprofits. In this set-up the outcome relies upon a mutually beneficial relationship where neither party is assuming too much of the cost or most of the benefit of the partnership. This is quite different from a nonprofit/for profit business partnership where the business entity usually assumes a majority of cost and little benefit other than free promotion of their product or service.

When done correctly, nonprofit partnerships are a very effective way to deliver value added benefits without draining the bank. There are, however, risks that come along with partnerships. With focus and planning you can partner with confidence.

The smart organization will take these steps before moving forward with any partnerships:

  1. Be Proactive - Do not wait for an outside organization to approach you. Start planning for partnerships now by setting a clear and intentional policy. Included in your policy should be a goal statement regarding your constituents and how they will benefit from the partnership.
  2. Seek Input - Talk with your board members, donors, and community leaders about the partnership process and the goals you wish to achieve. It is an excellent tool for engagement and they will offer opportunities, ideas and concerns that you may not have considered.
  3. Be Mission Focused - Partner with organizations that compliment your mission. Who are your natural partners? What organizations are you already working with informally that might mutually benefit from a more formal arrangement? Competitors should not automatically be stricken from your last. If a smart mutually beneficial partnering opportunity exists with a competitor, consider it.
  4. Don't Break Your Brand - Be sure any organization you partner with has the ability to deliver what is promised and has competent, committed leadership. Avoid any risk of tarnishing your brand by researching any public relations pitfalls your prospective partner has faced or is at risk of facing.
  5. Set Ground Rules - A contract stating the length, parameters and method of evaluation of the partnership should be agreed upon by both parties.
  6. Get Buy-In - Ensure that all parties within your organization affected by the partnership have an opportunity to voice their opinion early in the process. Be sure your potential partner has institutional buy-in as well. Smooth implementation and seamless delivery will be your reward.

Nonprofit to nonprofit partnerships can be a wonderful way for mission complimentary organizations to increase their impact and engage constituents in meaningful ways without draining critical budgetary resources. Whether you are in the early stages of establishing a partnership or are just starting to consider the possibilities the above steps will go a long way in ensuring a positive outcome for all parties involved. is a home for anyone interested in developing resources for nonprofit organizations. With Tips and Trends, Job Boards, Discussion Groups, the Integrated Advancement Team ready to partner with you to advance the mission critical work of your organization.

Source: EzineArticles
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