You know that partnerships matter for your business, and to address critical challenges that can help you deliver on impact. Yet how do you find potential partners, determine which types of partnerships are best for your business, which are best to advance your high-impact goals, and how to position your company for growth?
Partners help us address gaps that may exist, and ensure our businesses are working within our strengths. Partnerships that are designed right, built around the concept of comparative advantage, and that offer mutual benefit, will keep resources at a minimum and help ensure greater efficiency in your efforts. The concept of partnership building can seem overwhelming when there are so many potential partners out there. Where does one start? How do you know which are the best partners for your organization? Which partnerships will advance your impact and propel the success of your efforts?
Let's examine the three most important partnership types.
1. Service Delivery
Once you have determined what your organizational priorities are, and what impact you want to make as a business or nonprofit, identifying the most effective service delivery partners is crucial. These types of partners can range from customers to suppliers, employers to in-country project leads. Partner organizations or individuals that keep your programs moving, budgets in line, follow programmatic timelines and help deliver on prioritized goals or program objectives are service delivery partners. These partners should have a mutual benefit in helping you stay accountable, as their own organization or individual goals will be improved in doing so (at least in an ideal partnership). If you are an international nonprofit, your service delivery partners are often local nonprofits that help liaise with local governments or communities. If you are a company, service delivery partners are often suppliers, factory managers or those who you rely upon for following your company plans.
Your organization has a story. Your partners do too. Joining together to capture insights and ensure others understand the impact you are making helps ensure your story is cohesive and targeted to those who need to hear it. Being held accountable to the facts, being transparent and honest about the work you are doing is truthfully one of the most important elements in delivering true impact, so partners that encourage that honesty are among the most critical.
In order to advance your business aim, as well as your high impact goals, you will need the resources. For example, if your goal is to donate $10,000 a year to a local hospital, and you don't have the funds to do so, you will need to tap into your network or be creative working with suppliers or customers to raise that money. Finding ways to dedicate resources to causes that you and your colleagues care about can seem intensive. You don't want to go down a rabbit hole trying to achieve your high-impact goals, because that's just too expensive. Finding the right types of funding partners can save you time and ensure you have the resources you need to acheive your goals.
Brainstorm all of the partners that you have engaged with in the past, and that you can potentially engage with in the future. Think about which partners can benefit your potential impact from a service delivery, marketing/story-telling or fundraising perspective before narrowing in on which are the most suitable for your organization. Discuss with colleagues and determine which types of partnerships ignite excitement. Those are the types of partnerships to pursue. Ask prospective partners to share ideas, examples and existing project cases, but be prepared to do the same. Go one step further and share some ideas you may have for your impact goal. Be willing to give a little and offer up some creative Intel or information that will encourage the partner to engage with you and share resources, ideas, networks, and most valuably, their time. Don't forget that this is your chance to work on identifying your comparative advantage in order to engage partners for the benefit of your impact goal, the growth of your business, and to ensure mutual benefit for them too.
Wondering where to begin with your partnership journey? Reach out to discuss.
Some tools that may help:
Partnership Evaluation Tool
Fundraising Made Simple
20 Ways to Find New Partners and Amplify Your Impact