Cooperation and partnerships
Successful cooperation increases the impact of associations’ activities. Seek potential partners from among such associations, companies or other actors who work in the same field or who share the same values. A successful partnership is one where both parties give and get.
Once you have found an organisation that is interested in a partnership with you, it is advisable to begin by getting to know your partner better. This builds trust between the partners and helps you learn about each other’s different practices or approaches. At the same time, it is useful to assess whether the values of the two parties are close enough to one another. Also clarify the goals for your partnership or collaboration. In addition, make sure to go through what resources or knowhow the parties can offer each other, assess the resources available and agree on a clear division of tasks.
It is useful to consider the following questions before beginning a collaboration or partnership:
- How a partnership with another actor can support my association’s strategy?
- What does my association have to offer? In which matter my association has factual knowledge, everyday expertise or other special skills?
- What kind of a partnership would bring significant benefit to your association’s target group?
- Who works with the same theme in your operating area?
Different forms of partnership and their benefits
Event partnership: Organising events together is one of the most common forms of cooperation among associations. You can create a completely new event with your partner organisation, or you can invite other organisations to take part in your association’s events. Benefits: a more diverse event; sharing resources; greater marketing potential; more attendees.
Partnership in advocacy: Associations have a significant role in Finnish democracy, and it is important that civil society organisations’ voice is heard. Advocacy is best carried out in active cooperation with others and through shared responsibility. Partnership in advocacy can, for example, involve a joint advocacy campaign or a joint statement. Benefits: increased credibility; wider expertise; the larger the group, the louder its voice.
Exchange of information: The society is in constant state of change. Active exchange of information makes it easier to take stock of various situations and to plan your association’s activities. Sharing tried-and-tested practices can also improve the effectiveness of each organisation’s activities. In addition, sharing information can reduce overlap between different actors’ operations or create an idea for a new type of partnership. Benefits: receiving up-to-date information regarding your target group, other organisations’ activities, and the field of operations.
Networks: In addition to cooperation with individual partner organisation, an association can participate in a cooperation network comprised of several actors. In a well-functioning cooperation network, each actor has an equal standing. The different actors’ common needs have been identified and network’s objectives have been determined. The network has a uniform operating culture and there is mutual trust between the members. Benefits: open communication; exchange of information.
Corporate partnerships: Partnership with corporations is particularly beneficial when it comes to fundraising. Businesses can, for instance, offer discounts or special promotions to the association’s members, which can attract more people to join the association. A corporate partnership can also involve products. An association and a business can, for example, collaborate on a new product with proceeds split among the two parties. A business can also run a campaign wherein a part of an existing product’s sales revenue is donated to an association (usually for a limited period of time). Benefits: concrete financial benefit; visibility; broader range of activities.
Strategic partnerships: Strategic partnerships involve building long-term, goal-oriented cooperation. It is often pursued as a way to develop the association’s competence and credibility as an actor in its field. The goal of a strategic partnership can also be to establish or develop new activities or to reach a higher standard of operation. Benefits: each party learns something new and gains something which they could not otherwise obtain; potential to apply for funding jointly.