August 10, 2019

How to Set Partnership Expectations? 9 Questions to Ask Now

Setting Partnership ExpectationsCongratulations! You’re forming a new partnership to support your nonprofit’s work. Here is a set of questions to help you and your partner establish expectations for your work together. Answer the questions either individually or together in advance of your first meeting (or at it). Take notes so that you can measure your progress and catch conflicts before they grow into a rupture.

    1. What is the goal (or goals) of the partnership?
    2. Why is this goal important to your organization? Why will my board, staff, volunteers, and donors support it?
    3. What measurable signs can we anticipate when we achieve the goal? That is, what will success look like? (Go beyond any first easy answers.)
    4. Estimate the time frame it will take to complete this goal.
    5. How many meetings and total hours do you anticipate?
    6. To make the goals a reality, who needs to be part of the partnership? Are you missing any key people? If so, whom? Do they share the goals above? What’s in it for them?
    7. How will we reward people for helping us succeed? Are there any rewards for failure that need removal?
    8. I will take the following actions to develop or enhance trust in this partnership:
    9. The following are three signs of my organization’s commitment to this partnership. List

For help evaluating a partnership, use this tool.

To identify potential supporters, including new partners, use this helpful process tool.

If you’re considering a merger with this new partner, use this.


Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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