L-R of partnerships
This is one section of an A-Z of partnerships that is part of a larger guide
A launch can be useful both externally and internally:
It provides a formal start line if used at the beginning, when you can outline the overall process of creating the partnership.
See also the Start up process information sheet.
Anyone setting up a Development Trust will need legal advice on a number of fronts: for example on the formal incorporation of the company, the liabilities of Board members, on contracts of employment and on leases.
All these areas are minefields for new organisation. They are particularly complex for charitable companies like Development Trusts. It is essential to take advice from a solicitor who specialises in the field.
Local authorities may offer the services of their legal departments, but this is not always the best route to go unless the officers involved have extensive experience with charitable companies, the time to carry out the work, and are acting independently of the other interests of the council (perhaps as funder or landowner).
The management committee is the governing body for a project or organisation, to which staff are accountable. In a company it is the Board of directors.
Development trusts, their Boards and staff, must be competent in the business, financial and staff management of their organisation. Terms like community, partnerships, Trust are beguiling &endash; it is easy to forget that they are no substitute for sound management. See each of these topics for further discussion, and the Management information sheet.
In order to communicate effectively any partnership will need a range of materials which explain its purpose, promote its activities and seek to gain support and funding. A Development Trust might need the following during its first year or two of operation:
The shortest material &endash; perhaps a leaflet &endash; is often the most difficult to produce because it challenges the partnership to get across its main messages.
See also the information sheet on Materials.
Local media can be a great ally for a new partnership &endash; or the vehicle for constant sniping from critics. Remember news media is mainly in the business of interesting and entertaining its users, and of selling itself or advertising. It is not there as a public service to promote you. Journalists need an interesting story to tell. Would your story be worth telling to a friend outside the project? If not, why should readers or viewers be interested?
In dealing with journalists:
See also Press releases.
Meetings are at the heart of partnership building processes, whether social get-togethers, committees, workshops, or public meetings.
For effective meetings, consider:
See also Action plans, Committees, Public meetings, Workshops.
Companies limited by guarantee, which are the usual structure for Development Trusts, have provision for members rather than shareholders. Members may be individuals or organisations, and may have rights to appoint directors. Their powers are defined by the constitution &endash; the memorandum and articles of association of the company.
The constraints on the scope and powers of members are generally not legal. The question for those developing trusts and other partnerships is how wide or narrow do you wish the power base to be.
See also Accountability, Constitution
Mission is what you wish to achieve. The term is much favoured in business management, but can confuse people with its military or evangelical overtones. 'Purpose' is an alternative, although it has a slightly different sense &endash; I think mission has a stronger emphasis on end result.
See also Aims and objectives, Outcomes, Purpose.
If you find you aren't sure what to do next, or just seem to go around in circles, try one or more of these techniques:
Networking is the important business of making informal contacts, chatting, and picking up further contacts, and is fundamental to partnership building. It is the way to learn:
Networking is important before other more formal information-giving like producing leaflets, staging exhibitions and holding meetings. National networking organisations may also be able to provide you with local contacts, and similar projects elsewhere.
The opposite of ownership, and one of the most significant barriers to participation and partnership. People are far more likely to participate effectively in partnerships if they play a part in developing ideas and action plans.
The way local authorities and other large organisations traditionally work can present major barriers to partnership and community involvement. For example:
Fighting this head on consumes a lot of energy. Instead identify some allies, find out their agendas and &endash; if possible &endash; run some workshop which gets people out of committee mode and into some more creative thinking.
Outcomes is used here to describe those general results of plans and actions which you are seeking to achieve. Thinking in terms of outcomes which you may see, hear, feel as well as the more abstract aims and objectives should help clarify what to do to achieve what you want. For partnerships to work well, the outcomes sought by different parties must dovetail to some extent.
Outputs are the measurable results of projects or programmes &endash; homes built, people who have completed training &endash; and are dear to funders who want to know what they are getting for their money.
The stake that people have in an idea, a project or an organisation is fundamental to their commitment. For that reason, early brainstorming workshops, where everyone has a chance to contribute ideas, are important.
See also Control.
Participation is used here to describe a process by which individuals, groups and organisations are consulted about or have the opportunity to become actively involved in a project or programme of activity.
Partnerships are formal or informal arrangements to work together to some joint purpose. In my view:
Partnerships do not have to be equal &endash; but the various parties do need to feel that they are involved to an appropriate degree.
When a Development Trust or other partnership is funded by a public body, each side may wish to develop an agreement setting out formally the terms of the grant. The funding body should provide the Trust steering group with an outline of the agreement to assist them in preparing the their bid for funds. This may be in the form of an outline business plan, and might cover the following issues:
See also the Agreement information sheet
A major problem for partnerships is that the potential partners usually have different views of the world &endash; different agendas, organisational cultures, priorities. This is a simple technique in which a group uses past experiences to think about the future.
Past and future
1 Split into groups of 3 or 4
2 Provide each group with a large piece of paper label PAST at the top, and FUTURE at the bottom, and about 20 Post-it notes.
3 Each group member writes what they thought most worthwhile or successful in the past, and what they should be tackling in future. One point to a note.
4 People stick notes on the appropriate part of the paper, and cluster them when they are similar.
5 Small groups report back to the larger group.
Adapted from Training and How to Enjoy It, John Grayson.
In order to make regular checks on progress and keep your plans under review, see development of your partnership building process as a cycle:
Planning for Real is a powerful technique for involving individuals and groups in decisions about their neighbourhood, a site or building by producing a three-dimensional model. This and similar model-based techniques can be very effective in involving people because they allow 'hands on' responses, do not rely on written material, and give everyone a say. It is important that:
Planning for Real is a registered trade mark of the Neighbourhood Initiatives Foundation. Contac them at firstname.lastname@example.org
A great technical aid to collective decision-making, and an improvement on basic Brainstorming. When running workshops give people pads of Post-its to write their ideas on, then stick them on a chart and move them around into groups.
Issues of power and control and central to the development of partnerships. For example:
The rhetoric of partnership can often be used to disempower people if it is used &endash; consciously or unconsciously &endash; to mask these fundamental questions.
See also Control, Ownership.
Presentations are speeches with props. These may range from a simple flip chart to slides and videos. However, the effectiveness of your presentation will depend more on careful planning than technology. The checklist below should help.
Journalists are bombarded with press releases and bin most of them. Generally personal contact produces more result on important issues. However, you may well need to produce press releases to announce events, provide background, summarise reports or circulate speeches in advance.
See also Communication, Five Ws plus H, Media.
Businesses, large or small, are as much part of any community as local residents and are key partners for Development Trusts for several reasons:
Although widely used, public meetings are not the most effective method of involving people. While they may be useful giving information, and gaining support around a clear-cut issue, they are poor vehicles for debate and decision-making. Classic public meetings with a platform party can easily be dominated by a small number of people, and become stage sets for confrontation.
If you do hold a public meeting:
There are three key questions to ask before embarking on any publicity:
1 Who are you trying to reach? For example, members of an organisation, the general public, sponsors, media, politicians.
2 What result do you want? For example, opinions, volunteers, funding, support.
3 How will you respond? For example, personal contact, leaflets, events or in other ways.
The answers to these questions will determine your choice of publicity method &endash; for example, exhibitions, media, events, print or audio-visual.
See also Communications, Identity and Image, Five Ws plus H.
A statement of purpose, or mission statement, is a summary in a sentence or two of your intention &endash; your aims and objectives. Statements of purpose may start out as broad intentions like 'we aim to create a better place to live and work'. They become meaningful when the aim is followed with statements of how: for example 'by providing advise and support for practical environmental projects'. There may be a number of these 'how to' statements which are objectives. If they are measurable, they become targets.
See also Aims and objectives, Mission, Outcomes, Vision.
Representation should not be confused with involvement when creating partnerships. A token 'community representative' may become isolated and achieve less than carefully-planned process for wider community participation. On the other hand, if there is no-one on the Board of a partnership organisation to argue for this participation it may not take place.
See also Accountability.