Top 3 Takeaways – How to Build Partnerships That Last

How to Build Partnerships That Last
Presented by Colette D. Ellis
June 10, 2015
Presented in collaboration with The Foundation Center New York

If your organization is considering working with potential partners, keep in mind that partnership opportunities can range from cooperation or collaboration through full integration or merger. It’s important that you and your Board first clarify your rationale for seeking out partnering organizations. By doing so, you will help to ensure greater strategic alignment with any organization you choose to approach.

Once you’ve determined your reasoning to establish a partnership with another organization, it’s important to fully engage your partner – create explicit opportunities for both organizations to contribute to development of ideas and solutions, and participate in decision-making processes. Moreover, realize that building partnerships can take time. It would not be unusual for you to call and exchange information for months before a new partnership yields tangible results, such as funding for a joint project.

The most successful and long-term partnerships are the ones that involve a real relationship between the partnering organizations. Passion for the mission and commitment to mutual benefit are key factors. From our consulting work with nonprofit and social impact organizations, we have identified our Top 3 Partnership Success Factors:

1. Executive involvement (senior leadership and/or executive “champions”)
2. Strong working relationships
3. Strong board involvement

These factors often lead to the preservation of relevant services or programs, improved image or reputation, and greater long-term financial stability. Furthermore, if mutual gains are identified at the onset of the partnership, this can result in better organizational and program alignment.

To learn more about how to assess new partnership opportunities for your organization or strengthen your existing partner relationships, contact Colette Ellis at

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