A talk about how to set up a partnership for your project resulted in several questions about how to find a partner organization for your nonprofit.
First things first: why do you need a partner?
Before you start looking for a partner organization, write down why you are looking for a partner. Are you looking for a fiscal sponsor, who can receive and manage the grant on your behalf? Or do you need a partner to bring in certain specific expertise that you do not have (yet) (sufficiently)? Or do you need a partner to gain access to a certain specific group of people or stakeholders?
And: what do you need from your partner?
Be very specific also about what you need your partner to bring. If they are your fiscal sponsor, they need to have good standing with the donor you want to approach. But maybe you also want them to be able to train your team in grant management. So that you develop as an organization. If you need a partner for expertise or access – how do you want them to share that with you? Write all your needs, wishes and expectations down in detail.
Don’t forget about your values
If you want to set up a functional, constructive partnership that adds value to your work, the partner organization needs to share at least some values with you. Be clear for yourself on what your key values are. What is important in how you do your work? Which values underpin your mission and vision? What drives you and your team to do the work every day? How have you set up collaboration in your team and how does that reflect your values?
Make a plan how to look for your partner
Now you know why you are going to look for a partner and what you need them to bring to the table. You know what values are important to you. Now is the time to make a plan how and where you can try to find a partner that matches your needs and is aligned with your values.
Outline for yourself a process, including possibly choosing from among different organizations and formalizing the partnership with an agreement (see also how to set up a partnership for your project).
Where to look for your partner
So now you need to figure out where you can find your partner. What is a good place to look for a partner depends of course on what kind of partner you are looking for. And also on your specific context. But here are some ideas for you:
- Ask other nonprofits who their partners are and how they found them.
- Look for past grantees on the website(s) of your (potential) donors.
- Find international organizations working on the topic and see if they have local members or partners near you. You can find that information on their website.
- Check annual reports of foreign / international organizations to see who their partners have been in the past years.
- Google for foreign embassies in your country and find out which nonprofits from their country of origin are active in your country.
- Check participants list of events on the topic.
- Search on Twitter for accounts tweeting on the topic, check who they follow and who follows them.
- Go to an event and mention the fact that you are looking for a partner for […] to just about everyone you speak to.
- Write a post about your search for a partner for […] on your Facebook page and ask your fans for tips.
- Add a sentence about your partner search to your email footer, social media profile byline, and everywhere else where people can see it while looking for other things.
My key tips
- Facebook is a great resource to find out what and who foreign embassies in your country are supporting.
- Don’t forget to do the simplest thing: ask around in the community you serve!
Want to know more and ask questions?
If you want to discuss this more – jump into the Facebook group and get input from a wide range of peers and from myself!
Here is how you can join my free Facebook group
You can join my free Facebook group how to become a professional and resilient nonprofit with Suzanne Bakker here. In this group we will create a safe space for open exchange and discussion on potentially sensitive topics like boards, nonprofit management, fundraising, etc.