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Strategic Partnerships: Upside/Downside

Funds are tight. Nothing new here. Non-profit organizations are forming strategic partnerships. These partnerships are a methods to reduce costs, to expand visibility and, most importantly, to serve clients better. Partnering can be a boon to the partners in the short term. Long range, they may become stumbling blocks. Here are a few points to consider.

Choose Wisely

Partners should have common visions before entering into the partnership. If the prospective partners are non-profits, the organizations should be of approximately the same size, have proven track record and financially/organization stable.

Know Strengths and Weaknesses

Both organizations should flourish under a strategic partnership. Resources are best used to increase program services to the client population and not troubleshooting team dynamics.

Plan for the Dissolution at the Beginning

Breakups are painful. Emotions usually become entangled. During partnership discussions, have a topic of discussion be the dissolution. People involved in managing the partnership activities will change. Write out a plan and have it become part of the partnership documentation. The dissolution will still be painful, but those involve will have a methodology to follow, a methodology agreed to in advance.

Plan for Your Post-Venture Future

 All partners should make an organization-specific  assessment at least once year to review the benefits of the strategic partnership to the organization. Too many partnerships either slowly die or the organization is thrown into crisis by the sudden pullout of a partner. The executive members of all the partners need to insure that clients will still be served post partnership.

About the author: Peg Gotthold has over 30 years experience in project management and for-profit and not-for-profit profit start ups.  She holds an engineering degree from Drexel University and holds certificates in grant writing and dispute resolution.

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