Develop Strategies for Maintaining Partnerships

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Once you establish partnerships, you must also work to maintain them. Like people, organizations are dynamic entities that change over time, conceivably to the point where the original basis for a connection no longer makes sense. Ideally, a new basis can be found, particularly if a partnership has borne fruit in the past, but dissolution is certainly common when partners grow too far apart. Don’t wait for this to happen! Be proactive! Take steps to maintain your partnerships! It is useful to think of your partnerships in terms of the bonds that hold you together.

The Maintaining Partnerships template will assist you in developing strategies for maintaining partnerships.

It is important to come up with a sustainability plan for each of your partnerships. Download the Maintaining Your Partnerships Template to assist you in developing strategies for maintaining partnerships.

Over time, your partnerships should evolve.

In the first column of your Maintaining Your Partnership template, list all of the organizations that you are currently partnering with. In the second column, label each partner depending on the category they fall into: transactional, complementary, or collaborative.

A transactional partnership is originally formed to bring about a direct material gain for each member. You agree to share services, such as office space or purchasing power, but little more.

Complementary partners have compatible missions and may work with the same clientele. They are likely to use each other as referral sources and may work together on a community initiative or a grant, but they operate as fully independent entities.

Collaborative partners work together on a much wider scale, integrating one another into daily operations. Members of a collaborative are still independent, but the partners exert considerable influence on one another while working together to fulfill a common vision.

Maintaining your partnerships means keeping them alive and not allowing them to grow stagnant. Sometimes, maintaining the status quo is desirable, but over time it is more likely that the scope of your partnerships should evolve in response to organizational and environmental changes.

Maintaining transactional partnerships requires open communication, trust, and reliability.

Transactional partnerships are need-based. Thus, maintenance entails ensuring that the arrangement continues to fulfill each partner’s needs. Maintenance of a transactional partnership requires both members to openly communicate information pertinent to the agreement. Fostering a sense of trust and reliability serves to strengthen the stability of the agreement, increasing the chances that the nature of your partnership will evolve rather than dissolve as a response to your organizations’ changing needs. Even if a relationship must dissolve, open communication will make you aware of this sooner, giving you time to make new arrangements and insulating you against future uncertainty. Make plans to talk with someone from your partner who either has decision making authority or knowledge of the aspects of his or her organization affected by the agreement. Meet at least twice a year to discuss how the arrangements are working and what adjustments could be made to benefit all or both partners.

Maintaining complementary partnerships requires frequent communication, faith, and awareness.

Complementary partnerships are opportunity-based. These partnerships are formed for benefits such as giving clients access to additional services, increasing visibility, or for winning a grant that neither organization is capable of carrying out alone. As with transactional partnerships, open communication is essential to maintain the partnership, but since your organization’s reputation is likely at least partially at stake, the communication needs to be more regular and its scope needs to be greater. Maintenance of a complementary partnership depends upon each member having faith that the other members will produce high-quality services that are relevant to the work they do. Partners need to be made aware of new organizational developments such as a geographical expansion of services. Also, as opportunities are sometimes fleeting, partners need to be kept aware when new chances to work together arise. If they prove to be reliable, complementary partners are a valuable commodity that can greatly enhance the visibility and success of your organization. Make arrangements to talk at least quarterly to keep one another aware of new developments and opportunities.

Develop earned income strategies to ensure a reliable source of income.

Collaborative partnerships are mission and vision based. A collaborative partnership is formed to combine efforts and resources as a more effective and efficient way to address a common problem. To maintain a collaborative partnership, it is essential that each partner not only be kept informed of, but also that each partner has a say in any decisions concerning significant developments within other partner organizations. The dynamics of a collaborative partnership are complex, so leaders need to agree on a schedule to discuss aspects of the partnership, such as maintenance of a common vision and resolution of any partnership difficulties. Due to the closeness of the partnership, direct interaction is frequent and real human relationships are especially important. To maintain these relationships, you should consider creating institutional structures, such as annual get-togethers, that foster a sense of camaraderie and mutual identity.

The Community Tool Box has additional information concerning how to maintain a coalition, which is essentially the same as a collaborative partnership.

Click to open interactivity Identify characteristics of partnerships in order to develop strategies for maintenance.

Identify characteristics of partnerships in order to develop strategies for maintenance.

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