Collaboration, Partnerships Can Extend Funding Dollars

We at The Grant Advisors have always been big fans of partnerships, whether they are public-private or as simply a collection of private organizations. The essential advice here is to diversify your local funding stream to make sure you have adequate resources if one funder dries up and disappears.

And, under the Obama administration, the feds have been pushing collaboration and partnerships in the federal Request for Proposal (RFP) process.  Such insistence on collaboration is starting to show up in private RFPs as well.

Each prospective partner has unique reasons for participating in a public-private partnership for youth programs. Recognizing these reasons makes it easier to understand how and why partnerships are able to mobilize public and private resources to improve and expand supports, services, and opportunities for youth.

10 Steps to Better Public-Private Partnerships

  1. Have clear goals — Collectively defining goals gives all partners ownership of the partnership. This increases the likelihood that partners will stay committed.
  2. Focus on results and measure progress — Defining and setting benchmarks of success are an important way to measure your progress but also to identify challenges and make smart decisions, based on how and where the initiative is going.
  3. Involve youth and families in developing programs — Engaging youth and families in planning and evaluating programs helps ensure partnerships achieve their purpose and maintain high quality services. They can also ensure that they’re culturally appropriate and meeting the needs of communities.
  4. Engage diverse stakeholders from the start — Establishing a diverse stakeholder group (youth, parents, non-profits, and other community groups, as well as business and foundation leaders and local government representatives) helps gain broader public and private support.
  5. Rely on community champions for support — Cultivating key champions (religious and other community and non-profit leaders, government officials, foundations, and business leaders) can bring stronger interest and visibility to your initiative, both through media and other public events.
  6. Establish clear governance structures — Whether relying on existing leadership or developing new governing structures (either new non-profit entities or temporary bodies, such as committees, commissions, or advisory boards) partnerships benefit from defined roles and communication and decision making processes.
  7. Adapt to changing conditions — Being flexible enough to take advantage of changing conditions or resources could mean adapting your partnership’s scope to take advantage of new local, state, or federal funding.
  8. Enable all partners to benefit — Draw on the strengths of individual members while remaining sensitive to the different corporate, government, or community cultures. When all partners perceive they have something to gain, they remain actively involved.
  9. Work to maintain momentum and sustain your efforts — Celebrate even the small successes and generate public awareness and media attention whenever possible. It’s also important to plan for financial sustainability and to recognize that dedicated staff may be needed to support your partnership, both initially and over time.
  10. Support like-minded community partners — Remain aware of and connected to the work of other community partners to enable the partnership to use resources more efficiently. Youth, families and communities benefit from coordinated efforts.

The most successful partnerships accommodate the motivations underlying partners’ participation and shape partnership goals and activities to benefit all partners.

Info:, Capital Workforce Partners has more tips on partnerships.

About Frank Klimko

Frank Klimko is a nationally known journalist, grants expert and speech writer/speaker. He has years of experience helping nonprofits devise lists of the right funding opportunities and secure funding from these foundations and corporate entities. Clients have focused on an array of areas including child care, homeless, hunger and K-12 education. Additionally, he is a Freedom of Information Act expert, who has helped numerous clients with securing proprietary information from the federal government. Currently, Frank Klimko writes the Children & Youth Funding Report and Private Grants Alert, which are Washington DC-based publications. CYF is a daily publication covering Congress, the Education Dept. and the various federal regulatory agencies. PGA, another daily publication, covers the world of private philanthropy.
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