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Partnering with other organisations

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As already indicated by its name, working in partnership under the Delivering Community Services in Partnership Policy is critical. We need to expand the definition, so that partnership is not only considering partnership with your funding agencies, but also with other service providers.
Collaborative practice involves community service organisations working together to achieve shared goals.
In the community services delivery system, collaboration is achieved when organisations develop mechanisms - structures, processes and skills - for bridging organisational and interpersonal differences, and together arrive at outcomes that they value.

There are four recommended steps involved in developing a successful collaborative venture:

1. Identify and assess agencies that may be potential partners and select partner/s-

2. Analyse the potential benefits and costs of the proposed venture with the selected partner/s

3. Conduct a risk assessment on the proposed venture

4. Develop a partnership agreement

Reasons for collaboration
Evidence indicates that community organisations collaborate to:
1. Create or modify service delivery a new shared service

2. Maximise resources co-location of service outlets

3. Policy development at organisational or community levels

4. Systems development and change through changed relationships between organisations

5. Social and community development

 Benefits of collaboration
Although many community sector organisations compete with other organisations for access to government and private funds, collaboration between organisations can provide important benefits to organisations and their clients or constituents.

  • Working with other organisations, either though informal networks or more formal partnerships can provide:
    greater efficiency and less duplicated effort. 
  • access to additional resources or lower costs
  • improved service coordination across agencies.
  • a holistic approach to meeting client needs
  • greater innovation and flexibility
  • access to up-to-date information, new ideas and strategic thinking
    improved capacity to demonstrate best practice
    political and lobbying strength
  • increased capacity to successfully submit tenders
  •  additional expertise, support or legal protection for small, new, or struggling organisations.

Over time, the combined benefits of collaboration create new opportunities for partnering with others to build strong, safe, healthy and vital communities and a sustainable future together.

Successful collaboration
Evidence-based assessment of successful collaboration highlights six partnership principles: 

  • recognise and accept the need for partnership
  • develop clarity and realism of purpose - ensure commitment and ownership
  • develop and maintain trust - create clear and robust partnership arrangements, and monitor, measure and learn.
  • create clear and robust partnership arrangements, and
  • monitor, measure and learn.

The development of a shared vision and values between collaborating organisations, have been highlighted as crucial to successful collaboration.
A successful collaboration or partnership also needs to be approached systematically. Without clear goals and careful planning, collaborating organisations risk misunderstandings, disagreements or other problems arising.

This article is in courtesy of Queensland Council of Social Service reserach on their Community Door information portal. The original source with more detailed description and examples of each point can be accessed here

Further reading: 

Click here to read about different types of partnerships

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