So, when Just Giving asked me to come up with some content for their blog, I have to say, it felt like I was back at University having to write a dissertation….pressure, timescales, what will I write about, will it really be helpful, will it actually be engaging and so on and so forth.
If you read on I guess you can decide, but it had to be a subject that I’m passionate about, have a few years experience in and will hopefully be of some use to all you Charities out there!
So, forgive me if I’m teaching you to suck eggs here, it’s not my intention but I wanted to help give you a recipe to assist you in making the most out of your existing external Partnerships in this hectic, packed work life most of us tend to lead. It’s basic, it’s simple, it’s the equivalent of a plain sponge cake….which is sometimes so much better than all the fuss and nonsense of the whipped cream, jam and sprinkles, right?
Even if you learn nothing new today from this, perhaps it will make you reflect on how you are currently managing these Partnerships, what they are for and why are they there?
Mutually Beneficial (the base)
A Partnership must be beneficial to both parties, working together in a collaborative way to achieve mutual gains. Agree the goals at the beginning of the Partnership, set them in stone, refer back to them at various points of the year, are you still on target to achieve your goals or have you lost your way? Don’t be afraid to reset the boundaries, tweak, adjust, review, brainstorm together, change the plans and don’t be afraid to so – if it’s a true ‘Partnership’ then this is ok.
Communication (throughout & plenty of it)
This needs to be constant and on-going, keep those lines of communication open and remember that listening is equally as important! How can you maintain a successful Partnership if you’ve not been in touch for months on end? Think about it, when was the last time you spoke, emailed or even sat in front of one of your Partners? If you’re racking your brains to remember, then that’s way too long, remember Partnerships need attention in order to flourish, thrive and grow.
Integrity & Trust (the equivalent of baking powder)
I can’t stress how important this is, if there’s no trust or integrity then you’re on the road to nowhere, mistrust leads to frustration and frustration inevitably leads to the breakdown of a Partnership. Trust needs to be earned, trust takes time, but once established can open the doors to a more successful, productive and fruitful relationship.
Structure – (the magic ingredient)
How can you have a Partnership without any structure? From the day that contract is signed, there should be an account framework set out to plan the year ahead with clear timelines, a structure should include the 3 A’s:
An activation plan
An action/contact plan
Once you both have this structure in place, it provides you with the framework for the year ahead. You are each accountable to the other and with that comes transparency and measurability. To have no structure, is the beginning of the end before it’s even begun.
Time (to perfect)
Give a Partnership time! In this fast moving life we lead, sometimes things don’t evolve quite as quickly as we would like them too, we give up on things before they’ve barely started. Be in it for the long term, you’ve taken the time to establish the Partnership and to set your goals. So make sure you follow through and just because it hasn’t delivered all you thought it would in the first year, don’t make any rash decisions. Reevaluate, reset those goals and dig in, Rome wasn’t built in a day!
A basic sponge, perfect in texture and taste with the opportunity to add your own special icing or even a cherry on the top!
By sticking to these basic ingredients, you should in essence have the basis for establishing a solid foundation on which to build your Partnerships. Everyone can add their own icing, topping, flavour, special ingredients or even a cherry on the top, but stick to the basics and you’re three quarters of the way there.