1) Focus on the cause. When it makes sense for the cause to work together, but necessarily for your own organization, you should still partner (within reason). As others see that you are more committed to the cause above yourself and your organization, it makes you more attractive.
2) Communicate, communicate, communicate. Clearly put in writing the details of the partnership that is equitable to all parties. Outline what responsibilities each of you has, how you will message it, and how it supports the community you serve together. Almost every project we do has an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) which details our responsibilities to one another. When there are no surprises going in, and the outline is fair to everyone, it cuts down on problems.
3) Be ok with sharing the credit. Look, you are partnering for a reason, because each organization has a particular strong suit you want to play to. That’s great, talk about that because it was important to the project. But when your partner has a strong suit, speak to that too. The project is successful because you each did your part. You should be willing to share the credit.
4) Write grant proposals together. Just think about it. What if you wrote grant proposals with another organization. You each talked about what part you would do and outlined each cost but put forward one large budget with who gets what and why. I bet the project would have a greater chance of success and the foundation officer would be more likely to fund. Just a thought.
5) Get over your differences. Too often I see organizations working on the same cause, maybe on the same college campus, but unwilling to work together. They have some fundamental differences that make them different organizations. But to the outsider, it looks like you are more concerned with your own organization than contributing to bringing attention and action to the cause. My advice, get over it. Find out the things you do agree on and do events together around those things. That doesn’t mean you merge into one organization or throw away those differences you find important, but when you focus on the similarities you’ll just get a lot more done.
Basically, if you go into non-profit and you’re doing a good job it means you’re trying to work yourself out of a job. And if you’re not trying to work yourself out of a job, trying to create an environment where the cause you are advocating is no longer a problem, well then I think you need to check your motives. I’m not saying Giving Children Hope is perfect, we are far from it. But as we continue to partner with numerous organizations to make sure joint-projects are successful we’ve learned something about why some partnership work and some that are more challenging. We just want your partnership to be successful too!