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Better Together- Thoughts on partnerships

Spring fundraising season is in full-force. The golf tournaments, 5Ks, galas, and other events are bringing together community members and their favorite nonprofits, generating much-needed revenue for organizations making a big difference for those they serve.

That also means it’s a busy season for grants! Anecdotally, I’ve always seen big surges in grant applications in the spring and fall, as funders work around summer vacations and their own year-end activities.

This year, a big theme for many of my clients has been partnerships. Yes, everybody is doing great work on their own, but we all know things are even better when great organizations can join forces and pool their efforts.

A good partnership not only scales program delivery and helps your organization reach a larger population - it also looks really, really good to funders.

A well-developed, well-coordinated partnership between organizations is almost certain to catch the eye of a prospective funder. That said, a good partnership takes a lot of thought, planning, and ongoing work. 

Here are some of the first things to consider when exploring new nonprofit partnerships:

  • Don’t rush into anything: A good partnership needs time to fully develop so everyone involved has a clear sense of the goals of the project and their roles in it. A half-baked partnership will do more harm than good, as the partners may not have a full sense of what they’re trying to accomplish or what their roles will be.

  • Set clear goals: An effective partnership knows what it’s trying to accomplish. Are you trying to reach a larger population? Combine resources to provide a more efficient, effective service? Start with a clear goal and work backwards, ensuring that every step in the process works toward your and your partner’s shared goal.

  • Establish clear responsibilities: This is both organizational and at the staff level. Make sure you know who is responsible for every piece of the project to ensure accountability and smooth operations. Unclear lines of authority can create major logistical challenges, so it’s important these details be established before a new partnership is officially launched.

  • Who is a natural partner? Determining the right partner for a project can be a surprisingly difficult task. Not only do you need to find an organization in the right issue area - you need to find a partner (or partners) who can share your values and strategy for social impact. Focus on the organizations you have positive interactions with and see how those can grow into impactful collaborations.

  • Establish you to manage funds: This goes without saying, but every partner should have a clear understanding of their funding needs for the project, how funds will be divided up, and which organization will be primarily responsible for managing the money. Establish this before funders get involved and money starts flowing into a new initiative.

Setting up a partnership is trickier than it sounds, but when it’s done the right way, it can be one of the most inspiring demonstrations of the nonprofit sector’s ability to create lasting change in people’s lives. 

Team Kat & Mouse has been honored to facilitate a number of impactful nonprofit partnerships across the country, and we are always eager to bring people together in the shared hope of changing lives.

If you’re interested in nonprofit partnerships or working to get an idea off the ground, drop us a line! Our team of nonprofit fundraising consultants is happy to set up a free consultation to share all the ways we can help.

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