Voices from our network: communicating partnerships

Jenny Costelloe, Collective17

We are pleased to share this insights post from Spurwing's strategic partner, Jenny Costelloe, Founder of Collective17, on how to effectively communicate partnerships.

“Partnerships” has become a buzzword in recent years, with many organisations talking about one partnership or another, especially when it comes to sustainability goals. Indeed, the United Nations has identified partnerships as one of their Sustainable Development Goals. SDG#17 refers to the need for different sectors to work together to achieve sustainable development impact in a meaningful way, and at a significant scale. Traditionally, partnerships have referred to Public-Private Partnerships, but increasingly, partnerships can be much boarder than that and include NGOs, academia and community groups.

A common challenge related to partnerships is communicating the value created, or describing what has been achieved through partnership that couldn’t have been achieved alone. Being able to articulate the value created by the partnership increases the credibility and authenticity of the union and of the respective partners. When trying to communicate the value created by a partnership, consider the following:

  • Describe the problem that the partnership is designed to address e.g. food security, access to healthcare, gender discrimination – and what activities will be delivered through the partnership to contribute to a solution.

  • Consider the spectrum of partnerships; they can range from transactional to transformational. A transactional partnership is the traditional “cheque to charity”, philanthropic-type engagement, whilst a transformational partnership tends to engage many partners and results in systemic change, or disruptive innovations. Neither is right or wrong but when describing the partnership be honest about what it has achieved.

  • What it would look like if one of the partners wasn’t involved – what is the unique role of each partner? Is the private sector partner involved just to fund the initiative; is the NGO partner unique in its ability to fulfil its role in the partnership; is the government partner a critical stakeholder, or just nice to have? Describe the unique and essential roles played by each partner.

  • Use data as much as possible. How many people will benefit; how will their lives be impacted; how much was invested (or what other contributions were made e.g. time, IP, assets); what are the targets for the partnership?

Including these four points in your communications about partnerships will help to differentiate your approach and activities from those of your peers, and how your participation can contribute to achieving the SDGs by 2030.

Jenny Costelloe, Collective17

Collective17 is a network of experts who advise organisations on the 17 SDGs. For more information contact Jenny via jenny@collective17.com

If you'd like more ideas on how to communicate your partnerships, contact Spurwing at info@spurwingcomms.com

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