Partnerships are agreements organisations with similar goals, that believe they could do more together, than can be achieved by a single organisation operating alone. Partnerships create efficiencies and innovation through collaboration, shared resources, reduced duplication, and advocacy.
You will need to build strong partnerships across all levels of government, community service providers, developers and residents.
Bringing relevant parties together is not an easy task. It takes time and effort to build relationships and trust across parties that may have different processes and systems and different priorities. The key is to find common ground and a common goal.
To build a partnership you will need to:
- Find and engage partners by mapping all stakeholders that have levers for the future well-being of your community. Stakeholders to be considered include:
- State government agencies
- Developers and major landholders
- Local–regional level health and community service providers already operating in the area
- Non-government and community organisations and social enterprises
- Community members and groups from the area or surrounds
- Education providers
- Other local governments sharing your borders.
Partnerships need the right decision-makers at the table. Make sure the people you choose:
- hold information about how to solve the problem (have expertise and ideas)
- are willing to invest time/personnel/materials (resources)
- have the authority to make decisions
- are willing to accept responsibility for, and take ownership of, the partnership.
- Create a governance structure for the partnership that provides clear ways for different partners and stakeholders to be involved, and that outlines decision-making processes. A governance structure might include:
- a steering committee of partners to make decisions
- working groups that may include a broader range of stakeholders
- a community advisory group or mechanism, and
- a communications mechanism for those that want to stay informed and only be bought in as required.
Each partnership may require different governance and needs, and partners may change over time. Partnerships should therefore review their governance regularly. Once the governance structure, and roles and responsibilities within it, are clear, document them in a partnership agreement or MOU.
- Create a vision together. The OECD has identified the biggest risk to a partnership is that partners interests and expectations are not aligned. Early work on a vision and shared purpose is vital.
- Check you have the success factors for effective partnerships:
- a good broker/facilitator to build relationships
- the right decision-makers at the table with a commitment to contribute
- a clear vision and objectives that are strategically aligned to the community’s needs and aspirations
- good process for running meetings, creating work plans, and documenting activities
- ongoing motivation through champions and evaluation.