7 steps to upscale your partnerships game

10 minutes

In our quest to create a better world, it’s important to remember that we cannot do it alone. Collaborations play an important role in ensuring that we leave this world better than we found it. Here are a few tips and resources to help your National Scout Organization (NSO) strengthen its collaborations with other organisations:

1. Reflection
Self-reflection is a good way to diagnose where there is room for improvement in the NSO and to identify areas that need collaborative support from partners in order to map the way forward. Before diving into something new, it’s always helpful to identify your needs and aspirations through a status mapping exercise. In this exercise, you may ask yourselves where you see the NSO in the future, what you need to get there, how you plan to get there, and who you need to help you get there. This will be helpful when you pitch who you are and what you stand for to the external world. Completing a needs analysis is the first step in our new Partnership Development Guide

2. Branding
After the mapping exercise, you may want to polish your NSO’s brand and external image. The good news is that WOSM is already a global brand, all you need to do is localise what Scouting stands for to meet the needs of young people and the communities in your country. It is equally important to reflect on what distinguishes you as an NSO, or what value you would bring to a new partner. This will not only help you to identify the kind of partnerships you need but also align your partnerships with the goals and aspirations of you NSO.
Your brand should be reflected throughout your governance, activities, relationships, and everything else that your NSO is associated with. You can also attract partners by voicing out what your NSO stands for and showcasing the impact of your NSO and the amazing work that young people are doing. An updated version of Representing the Scout Movement will be available soon on WOSM Services for all NSOs to use. 

3. Research
When you have mapped out the vision for your NSO, the next step is to identify potential partners. Conduct some research to see what kind of partners are available to support your needs. This may include checking in with others they’ve worked with before, desk reviews of their annual and financial reports, and seeing what other institutions are in their network. This will help you identify institutions that are in line with your vision, assess potential risks, understand what value your NSO can add to their work, and asses which partners would be the best fit for you. 


4. Learning by doing
Now it’s time to put your plans into practice. Sometimes others may reach out to you with partnerships requests, and other times you may need to work on your own proposal to approach them with. Before committing to formal agreements, start testing the waters through smaller collaborations to understand what it’s like to work with a partner and gain a better sense if a long-term relationship would work well. If you plan a meeting between the heads of both organisations, you might want to check out our Quick Guide for High-Level Meetings to make sure you’re well-prepared.

Relationship management will play an important role in this stage. This not only refers to great communication and conflict resolution, it extends to ensuring that your NSO is positioned as a reliable, transparent and accountable partner in all its activities, management of resources and reporting. Take our e-learning course Making Partnerships Work for Scouting to learn more about relationship management.


5. Diversify  
Diversifying partners and the way you engage with them will help ensure your initiatives are sustainable and not overly reliant on a single partner or funding source. Diversification can either mean a different partnership for each programme, multiple partnerships for the same programme or different partners supporting different initiatives, and having a diversified funding sources. Diversifying will ensure the continuity of programmes in the case that one partnership comes to an end. Get inspired by best partnership practices from other NSOs in the Partnerships Case Studies. You can also learn more about existing WOSM partnerships that your NSO may be able to benefit from on the Members Portal.


6. Seal the deal
Partnerships agreements should never be the start of your partnership. It’s important start with smaller collaborations, engaging in a “dating” style with your new partners before you formalise your relationship. It’s considerably easier to start a new partnership than it is to end a bad one, so make sure you’re ready to commit to a long-term relationship before you sign any agreements. Once you’re ready to make it official, take a look at our Memorandum of Understanding Template and adapt it to your own context. 

7. Continuous Improvement
Once your partnership is ongoing, engaging in a process of continuous reflection, evaluation and feedback is very important. This can be through internal reflection exercises, asking for the partners’ feedback, or before-after comparative analysis of what you have worked on together. It is important to receive continuous feedback from everyone impacted by your NSO and the partnership, including the young people, community, staff and volunteers.

When you receive feedback, reflect on it and adjust accordingly. Remember this is a continuous process which will help you identify room for improvement, sustain best practices, strengthen existing partnerships and help you form new ones!
Explore our new partnerships resources and put these tips into practice by requesting tailored support from WOSM on anything related to partnerships, advocacy, and fundraising on WOSM Services