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Partner Assessment Further Reading
This page provides more information about partner assessment.
1 Why is it necessary?
When considering any form of partnership working it is essential that you know who you are working with. Undertaking an assessment of the suitability of a potential partner is an important stage of getting to know each other, and planning work. Partner assessment has the following benefits:
- It is an important part of the process of two organisations understanding each other, and establishing whether there is a basis for them to work together successfully
- It builds confidence in the organisations you work with (potentially allowing for lighter on-going monitoring processes)
- It acts as one element of safeguarding the funds being provided as you have a better understanding of how they will be used and accounted for
- It demonstrates knowledge of where and how funds are being ultimately applied (for legal and donor reporting requirements)
2 What the Charity Commission says
In its guidance ‘Charities Operating Internationally’ to which Mango contributed, the Charity Commission includes a specific paragraph headed ‘What should be considered when selecting a partner?’. This states:
When selecting a partner or partners it is important that the charity makes thorough enquiries and that a formal agreement is signed by all parties setting out what is expected from each. Initial contact and local audit procedures are particularly important for overseas charities as frequent, ongoing contact with partners may not be possible or practical. Charities are advised to:
- collaborate with others with the same interests to identify potential partners;
- take up references wherever practical;
- assess the viability of the potential partner;
- get to know the type of people and organisation you are dealing with and the way in which they operate before entering into a written agreement;
- require all potential partners to provide costed budgets and forward plans;
- identify clearly what the anticipated outcomes are and how to know when they have been achieved; and
- establish local audit procedures taking into account what is practical and possible.
3 Long term relationship
Ultimately, partner assessment is about developing effective relationships, and managing risks. You are likely to be working closely with this organisation, over a period of time and potentially providing significant sums of money to them. It is appropriate for both organisations to find out more about each other and make a well informed choice about whether and how they want to work together. This includes asking some structured initial questions about each other, to make sure all the key areas are considered.
4 Considering both points of view
Assessments can be quite intrusive for local organisations, requiring a lot of management time and attention. It is important to keep in mind the power dynamics that external funding can create, and to make sure that assessments are sensitive to managers’ priorities and as constructive as possible from their point of view.
A good rule of thumb is to consider the “two faces of funding”: how would you feel about being assessed in the same way by one of your donors?
Many partnerships have the goal of ‘building capacity’. This naturally involves helping managers and staff in partner organisations to build up their self-confidence, self-belief, and abilities. A one-sided or heavy handed assessment may actually push the other way, and undermine their self-confidence.