Developing partnerships between nonprofits, agencies and businesses can help chapters amplify their impact more than any chapter or council might achieve on its own. These alliances exist along a broad spectrum ranging from less integrated associations and collaborations to more integrated joint programming and shared services.
Typically forged to increase influence and strengthen or expand chapter or council capacity, strategic alliances can be developed for several purposes. Chapters and councils might cultivate collaborative partnerships for the following reasons:
Advocacy Committee: Achieve greater awareness among constituents
Conservation Committee: Address complex issues that require coordinating multiple stakeholders and/or permitting
Veterans Service Partnership Committee: Provide additional or specialized capacity to meet mission outcomes
Youth Engagement Committee: Strengthen or expand program quality and impact
Diversity Committee: Provide new services or reach new audiences
While strategic alliances are complex and do not all look alike, there are five general steps to the process:
Determine needs and ideal outcomes. Review your strategic plan as your team determines your chapter’s needs and outcomes you would like to see from a collaboration. The impetus for any collaboration should be strategic benefits that can only be realized through an alliance or partnership. Gather key stakeholders to determine whether areas of the organization’s strategic plan or intended impact and theory of change would be enhanced by collaboration, and what level of integration and length of partnership are required to achieve the impact you seek.
Identify collaborators. Identify potential organizations to collaborate with, then begin conversations: Conduct a market mapping and landscape analysis to determine which peers might make potential partners
Consider potential challenges: Take into account organizational culture and structure, strengths, weaknesses, leadership, governance, systems, and back-office support, critically consider the practical challenges of implementing an alliance. Involve key staff at the organizations to discuss the realities of their work.
Conduct due diligence and negotiations: It is essential to go through a deep due diligence and negotiation process to ensure there are no major surprises once an agreement is reached. Make certain that all organizations involved agree with and feel comfortable with all agreements.
Implement collaboration, adjusting as needed: Once an agreement has been reached, the organizations can implement their alliance through a memo of understanding or legal accord. Communicating openly, learning, adapting, and measuring key indicators are essential to ensuring a healthy and successful collaboration.