Development Cooperation Handbook/Partnership Management/Essential ingredients of partnership building

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One of the conditions to present project proposal to EU Commission and other International donors is that the project will be implemented in partnership amongst different organizations. The basic idea is that each organization has a specific field of competence and a specific area of influence and so the partnership together has the capacity to integrate these differences and so together they can achieve higher professional competence and wider project impact. Another reason is that it is easier to monitor a partnership then a single organization, because one can interview separately the partners and learn more about the project; while organizations may have a less transparent way of carrying out their business.

If we want to work together as partners in development and generate solidarity with the stakeholders, we can neither instrumentalise stakeholders in achieving our objectives nor become their instruments in achieving their objectives. We must work together with development stakeholders for a mutual empowerment aimed at achieving the common objective of improving the quality of life and reducing poverty so that we are better able to choose the lives we have reason to value. Once selected, “an agreement should be made with our partners what each of us is going to contribute, the change we wish to achieve, how we will monitor progress, and how each of us will account for resources.“ (from 'Organization’s Approach') Organization’s experience has shown that the essential ingredients of a successful partnership are:

  • An agreement that this is a partnership
  • Clear, shared objectives and a shared agenda
  • Clarity of expectations (both ways)
  • Transparency (processes, finances, accountability)
  • Mutual respect and a genuine willingness to learn from each other

Partners sometimes say that what sets Organization apart from other founders is that we offer guidance and accompaniment as well as funding, which makes them feel Organization is more like a true ‘partner’.

Organization’s approach is to ensure a two-way flow of benefits between Organization and the partner; “sharing knowledge and skills” (which means Organization learning from partners as well as them learning from Organization); consulting partners about when advocacy or popular campaigning should be under Organization’s banner and when under their own; being “prepared sometimes to take a lead, but also often to follow” when working with allies on advocacy and popular campaigning; and maintaining “constructive, respectful relationships with (OI and) other affiliates”. The relationship between Organization and a partner can last many years, and it is vital that the relationship is effectively monitored and managed. Assumptions should be regularly tested and procedures adhered to so that mutual trust does not become complacency or exploitation.

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