Ensayos sobre la gestión y el liderazgo

Jose Luis Castro Forbes Councils Member
Forbes Nonprofit Council| Membership (Fee-Based)

5 Keys For Choosing The Right Partners For Your Nonprofit

noviembre 30, 2023
President and CEO of Vital Strategies, a global public health organization that designs solutions to pressing health problems.


Getting a nonprofit off the ground and focused on its mission is only half the battle. At some point, you’ll need to identify partner organizations that can help advance your larger goals.


These partners may be more established entities that can serve as mentors while benefiting from your fresh perspective and drive. They may be organizations at a similar point in their lifecycles that can redouble and energize your efforts, or they may be relative upstarts on the cutting edge of your field.


The goal should be to pursue relationships that will enhance your expertise. Also important is matching the right partners with the right initiatives. Strategic alliances open a window into the holistic approach that is vital to public health and nonprofit work. Here are a few tips that I’ve found to be effective in considering who to co-conspire with.

Seek partners with complementary experience and expertise.

In the nonprofit world—or any industry, for that matter—the true strength of a partnership is about complementing each other rather than overlapping. Search for counterparts, for example, who excel in operational areas where you’re not as refined and whose public following and network of peers are as yet out of your reach. An ideal partner will pursue you on the same merits.


Do your reputational due diligence.

A partner’s reputation becomes your reputation. Make sure they maintain no associations that could undermine your efforts. There are many opportunities for powerful partnerships with nonprofits and for-profits alike, so long as they’re not burnishing their legitimacy at the expense of yours. Certain public databases can help identify any red flags of potential partners so you can stay clear of pairing up with an organization or with groups antithetical to your mission. But also keep an eye out for green flags using these same tools that might point to partners considered by the public as good stewards.

Do an honest self-audit.

Turn that spirit of honest examination inward and investigate where you lack internal bandwidth or manpower. Just as crucial is acknowledging what’s already fine-tuned within your organization to avoid bringing in partners who ultimately—at no fault of their own—provide input and expertise that you already have.


Take your team’s temperature.

The surest way to conduct the above audit? Solicit feedback on what supports are most urgently needed. Ask department leads to crowdsource suggestions from their teams so that everyone’s voice is heard. This effort can pay off in building collective spirit as well as gathering streamlined intel that you can act upon.

Be open to change.

Change does not need to be drastic. Once you’ve done adequate external fact-finding and internal self-assessing, remember that you don’t always know what you don’t know. Ask potential partners for their view of what can be improved, simplified, revamped or reinforced. It’s all on a continuum of your organization’s growth, and strong partnerships are another key marker on that continuum.

In essence, the ingredients for healthy partnerships between nonprofits aren’t terribly different from putting together your initial team. Clarity of conviction is the foundation, and from there you can build on it with collaborative insights, careful introspection, thoughtful outreach and a healthy attitude about how to keep evolving and serve the people whose lives you aim to improve. It takes time and diligence but often leads to long-lasting stability and success.

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