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Almost all large businesses today got where they are via partnerships. Partnerships offer business growth through shared access to other organizations’ outreach, brand, resources, and know-how. This summary is a guideline that would aid in identifying the right partner for your project.

The following steps will assist you to prepare for a partnership.

1. Partnership Objective

A partnership could be made to:

  • Acquire additional resources (staff, space, or equipment) to carry out a project.
  • Be more efficient and avoid duplication or overlap in providing services.
  • Be able to serve the same clients or customers more effectively.
  • Learn from others or mentor others.
  • Form a lobby and attract the support needed.
  • Deliver a more comprehensive service that could not be done alone.
  • Enable the continuation of a project and ensure its sustainability.
  • Meet funding criteria that require collaboration with other stakeholders.
  • Other reasons.

2. Partnership Setup

Once your organization has identified that it is ready to partner, you need to carefully consider the type of partnership you would like to have. You should ask some questions such as:

  • What tasks need to be performed by the partner?
  • Is it a simple task or a long complex process?
  • What is the time limit for that partnership? e.g., short-term vs. long-term
  • Do we need more than one partner? and why?
  • Do we want to start small until we know more about that partner?
  • How formal or informal shall this partnership be?
  • What level of coordination is required to accomplish the goals of the partnership?

Partnerships can vary widely in their degree of coordination from a loose cooperative arrangement to a total integrated model.

 

3. Develop A Partner Profile

Having a good understanding of the kind of partnership you want and what your goals are will enable you to identify the kind of partner you need. Develop a partner profile. This could include:

  • Type of organization, e.g., government, volunteer-based, business/corporate
  • Size of the organization
  • Location of the organization
  • Type of services it should be able to provide
  • Type of experience it should have
  • Types of strengths or skills it should have
  • Financial stability and other resources it can provide
  • Cultural sensitivity
  • List of other desirable characteristics

 

4. Establishing Partnerships

It may be difficult to find partners, particularly if your organization is new to the community or you are not familiar with what other organizations have to offer. Proper market research is needed to identify the active organizations that might fit your partner profile. These steps are guidelines for partner identification:

  1. Develop an inventory of possible partners 
  2. Identify the potential roles each partner can play 
  3. Identify whether the organization is or has been involved in other successful partnerships or collaborations
  4. Identify resources needed from your organization (e.g. time, money, skillset, information, etc.)
  5. Arrange meetings or orientation sessions with potential partners. 
  6. Identify the major pros and cons of partnering with each organization. 
  7. Consider all your findings and identify two or three organizations that have the highest potential for partnering

General tips for a successful business partnership:

  • Be clear about your objectives and know why you are partnering.
  • Build on each partner’s strengths.
  • Develop trust by being open, transparent, and honest.
  • Be clear about each partner’s roles and responsibilities.
  • Communicate openly and be prepared to resolve differences as they arise.

Click on the attachment below to download a partner profile checklist and some guidelines that will help you develop a successful partnership.

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