Source 8: Next Steps
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Source 8: Next Steps

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Considering a strategic alliance with another nonprofit or government agency? Ask yourself some questions first.

Then use our checklist to develop an effective collaboration agreement.

Preliminary Questions to Ask

  • What are some potential problems of the partnership—from my perspective and from my clients’ perspective?
  • Am I comfortable with the timeframe of the agreement?
  • Is the agreement too narrow or too broad?
  • Will our partnership have room to grow?
  • Does the agreement give my partner too much latitude?
  • Does it include provisions for resolving conflicts?
  • Does it clearly outline our mutual responsibilities?
  • Will this agreement benefit both parties?

Adapted from La Piana Associates, Inc.

Agreement Checklist

It’s critical to develop a formal strategic alliance agreement that sets out what each party expects to bring to the alliance.

There are two approaches. The one that fits your organization will depend on your size, your partner’s size, how long you’ve been in operation, and the type of product or service your alliance will offer.

  • Approach #1: Loosely defined agreements
    Young or small organizations may prefer an agreement that is broad and loosely defined to allow the partnership to grow in new directions as the business evolves.

  • Approach #2: Tightly defined agreements
    Larger or older organizations, or those in evolving technology fields, may fare better with an agreement that spells out the precise scope of the alliance and all the details of how it will be accomplished. 

Whichever approach fits your organization, all agreements should include:

  • Your common goal
  • A strategy for how each partner will accomplish the goal
  • The parameters of working toward the common goal

A tightly defined agreement also may:

  • Identify key steps that each partner will take to meet the requirements of the agreement.
  • Include a timeframe for achieving the key steps.
  • Outline each partner’s accountability by including consequences for “worst-case scenarios” such as missed deadlines, budget overruns, or products not delivered as promised.
  • Provide a framework for resolving conflicts.

Adapted from Online Women’s Business Center, Dallas, TX

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