Achieving meaningful partnerships with nonprofit organizations: A view from the field.
This article addresses a topic of vital importance to the nonprofit sector: the dominant preference of its institutional funders for visible partnerships and the reality that most of these are shallow relationships entered into by their participants to obtain funding. The article draws attention to the not-so-subtle variations in the use of the term partnership by public, private and nonprofit sector actors as a cause for misaligned performance expectations. The article also introduces meaningful partnership as a desired outcome for partnership endeavors involving at least one nonprofit organization participant. In this usage, meaningful partnerships are those that are transformational in some fashion, going well beyond transactional contract-for-services relationships and lead to benefits that strengthen the participants in some manner. Entering into meaningful partnership offers the promise for nonprofit leaders and decision makers to apply performance benchmarks that they may use to receive greater return-on-investment in their partnership endeavors.