Identify and Involve Partners You Need

By Barry Sweeny, 2003

1. What are “institutional” partners? – Institutional partners are those organizations which share or overlap some of the same mission and needs as does your own organization. For example, if you are a public school district, possibilities for program partners will be anyone with an interest in teachers, administrators or the graduates of the schools. Possibilities include:

  • University teacher education programs, or schools of business, technology, community colleges, etc.
  • Intermediate service centers, regional professional development , and/or technology centers and school districts
  • Other area not-for-profits
  • A state department of education, commerce, labor, Workforce Development, vocational or One Stop centers, etc.
  • Several other organizations than your own who might be or become strategic partners

2. What are “constituency” partners? – Constituency partners are persons who are representatives of organized groups which are not considered “institutions” but which do have a common mission and needs with your program. Some examples might be:

  • The local or state level labor union or other staff associations
  • Professional organizations
  • Your own school district Board of Education
  • Your management cadre or professional group
  • A local parent group
  • The local Future Teachers of America, Junior achievement, 4H, FFA, scouts, or fraternal or veterans chapter
  • Business partners
  • Chamber of Commerce, League of Women Voters, etc.
  • Clients, customers, stock holders, and suppliers/vendors

Involvement of these two kinds of groups does complicate and slow down a planning and development process. Also, people added to the planning group will need to be educated to be able to contribute to the process. However, their involvement may help you avoid later challenges to your initiative and funding, and can provide you a broader base of support when you really need it most. For example:

1. When YOU ask for funding for an employee support program within your own organization, you may be seen as self-serving.

2. When clients, customers, stock holders, and suppliers/vendors or other stake holders in your organization ask for the same things, they are much more likely to gain the attention of decision makers. An example in a school district happens when parents understand the value of supporting the effectiveness of the new teachers which their own children may have, parents can ask your decision makers for support for the new teacher mentoring program, and that program will not be seen as self-serving.