Nonprofits engaging in strategic partnerships and formal alliances with other organizations should do so within the context of a board-approved policy outlining the goals and parameters of such partnerships. Depending on the type of strategic partnership, nonprofits should ensure that proper due diligence has been followed and that agreements, memoranda of understanding, or similar documentation have been thoughtfully reviewed and considered.
As the number of nonprofit organizations in the United States continues to grow, many nonprofit organizations are increasingly engaging in strategic partnerships to help provide higher-quality programs and services, leverage funding, broaden or strengthen impact, and improve administrative efficiency.
The purposes and types of these types of partnerships can vary widely. A workforce development organization might partner with a business to identify opportunities for graduates of its training program. A nonprofit that provides after school enrichment programming might partner with a school to broaden its reach. Two small nonprofit organizations with similar clientele might merge the administrative and advocacy functions of their respective organizations to save costs. And, two sports and recreation organizations may undertake a full scale merger of their organizations and operations to eliminate redundancies and maximize programmatic strength.
Whatever the reason for a strategic partnership, nonprofit organizations should understand how to identify potential partners and complete due diligence, determine what type of partnership is most appropriate, and create a memorandum of understanding (MOU) or other written agreement outlining the important aspects of the collaborative effort.
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From the Standards for Excellence®: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector. The Standards for Excellence code, developed by the Standards for Excellence Institute, includes specific benchmarks and measures that provide a structured approach to building capacity, accountability, and sustainability in your nonprofit organization. The code identifies 6 major areas of nonprofit governance and management: Mission, Strategy, and Evaluation; Leadership: Board, Staff, and Volunteers; Legal Compliance and Ethics; Finance and Operations; Resource Development and Fundraising; and Public Awareness, Engagement and Advocacy.
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