Monday, April 23, 2012

The New Partnership

Most non-profits have some kind of partnership. They partner with other agencies on delivering some services. They may share certain suppliers. They may have a friendly business or major donor who likes to offer their staff as volunteers or their offices for meetings. These are all common.

But there's a new form of partnerhsip. It's not about buying photocopier toner together in bulk. It's not about collaborating on delivering a program. And it's not about getting a donation or a sponsorship. It's about partnering for communications.

Instead of looking at partners as organizations that can help buy things or deliver services, look at them again as potential communications partners. They could help you create communications programs, and better stilll, they can help you deliver them.

Let's start with the obvious. You can't do it all alone. Your non-profit doesn't have the resources it needs to communicate. None do. You're always a bit short on people, money, time, skills and experience. A partnership with other organizations for communications will give you exactly what you need -- more resources.

Chief among their resources is their distribution network. They will reach different people than you do. In some cases, they may reach more people than you do. Imagine how effective your communications would be if they could send your message through their network to their people? Getting your partner to mention you in their existing newsletter or their big event is a cheap, effective way for you to extend your reach.

But partners also have access to the things that make communications work -- skills, technology and relationships with the media and others. These can be valueable to you as well.

The place to start is to take a long look at the non-profits and for-profits around you. Can some of them fit this role? What about the workplace that gave you a donation? Could they send your message to their clients? What about the non-profit that does similar activities? Could you partner with them on something like advocacy or education?

A partnership has to be mutually beneficial. So, you need to offer something of value to them. Can you give them a higher profile? Can you make their stakeholders feel good because they are helping you? Would you be willing to send the partner's messages to your stakeholders?

The benefit of a strong communications partnership is more than the sum of its parts. One major side benefit is that it shows you are the leader. When you partner with others, you're being proactive. This will give you a higher profile. And in these days where competition is an issue, being seen in this light is very important.

So, start partnering. Look for communications opportunities and take advanatge of them. It will help you, your partners and the community.

1 comment:

  1. Hi
    I find your blog very interesting and full of good advocacy advice. I will be reading again before I make further comments. I have volunteered with many different non-profits all of which needed help with communicating their vision to the public at large. Your work appears to be a good path to follow.