Following on from my last blog, the title of this one seems pretty self-explanatory. Indeed we have known for over a decade that increasingly supporters and donors are more motivated by causes rather than organisations and that working together can tap into significant social and social media campaigning. Except that working together is often anything but straightforward. In my social impact work I use a measurement approach called Raynor’s Framework. Raynor is a clever chap who has managed to articulate the different degrees of partnership working from loose, informal connections right the way through to formalised ongoing relationships. As well as the key questions you should ask to ensure your particular arrangement is the right one for everyone.
This approach to partnership working is important. You want to be clear about who and why you’re working together and what the beneficiaries will get out of it. Yes, donors also find partnership working really attractive, convinced that they will be getting a bigger bang for their buck. This can be true, but this can also be misleading. It all depends on how effective the partnership is.
The good thing is that partnership working can really make a significant difference to the outcomes your beneficiaries experience. Especially where you have partnered with an organisation that does different stuff to you and you have really good communication and commitment to shared values and goals on both sides. I know of examples where agencies have shared plans and resources to make sure that all the organisations working with a community in a particular location all go there on the same day and run a range of shared activities so that the beneficiaries know which day the organisations will be in the village and that the rest of the week they can get on with their lives.
Understanding how what you do and what someone else does can combine to deliver real change for people is powerful. You end up working in a different way, working with other organisations rather than constantly against each other for funding, profile, donors, supporters, etc. It is possible to both work together and be individually successful. But it helps to remember that the social economy doesn’t have to be the same as the financial sector, retail, manufacturing, etc. It is the one area of the economy where working with your ‘competitors’ really pays off!
Have you ever worked in partnership with other organisations? Would you like to? Can you see an opportunity that is best addressed through joint working? Want to know more about Raynor’s Framework and how I’ve applied it in my work?