Identifying Potential Partners
Assess your state/community to learn more about arthritis, underserved populations and organizations that focus on them, service gaps, and other possible partners with interest in health or physical activity related issues. A few assessment and partnership development tools include:
- Arthritis Foundation’s Community Assessment Tool
- Community Health Rankings and Roadmaps
- A Sustainability Planning Guide for Healthy Communities
- The Community Toolbox
Develop a list of potential partners with a similar mission and goals
Conduct research about the potential partners (See How To Research Potential Partners)
Screen potential partners to determine if they meet partner criteria and assess capacity for collaboration (See Collaboration Worksheet)
Prioritize which potential partners to approach
A Few Tips
Build Upon Existing Connections and Natural Relationships
- Research current and past individuals who have served as members of the state arthritis or other chronic disease coalitions and other key individuals involved with the Arthritis Foundation or state health department who are affiliated with or could open doors to partners in other sectors.
- Explore the potential for expanding existing organization collaborations. For example, look into affiliations that your organization already has collaborated with to do similar types of community interventions or chronic disease initiatives. Look also to organizations that have sponsored arthritis-related fundraising events or other activities.
- Review the locations where you are currently offering programs or interventions and see if there is a headquarters, regional office, or umbrella organization in those areas with whom you could work to expand your programmatic offerings.
Know Your Prospects
- After reviewing all of your information about key organizations in your area, develop a list of potential partners.
- Do your homework in advance to understand the potential partners’ capabilities, resources, and interests. and areas where there may be a natural fit or easy match between the organizations operations, activities, or products and your arthritis goals.
- Spend a bit of time researching the organizations culture and structure to identify the key gate keepers in the organization who must approve the partnership and/or champion the program activities.
Enhance Partnerships with Diverse Populations
- Enhance collaboration with National Alliance for Hispanic Health (http://www.hispanichealth.org) nationally and regionally
- Cultivate partnerships in the African American Community and participate in the Movement is Life: National Caucus on Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Health and Disparities (see http://www.movementislifecaucus.com)
- Collaborate with American Diabetes Association and the AF Consumer Health Department on the Move More, Feel Great program
- Lend some attention to health equity by identifying under-served populations where arthritis burden is high including rural pockets, isolated areas or impoverished communities. Connect with organizations that serve as entry points to these populations (e.g., cooperative extension, faith based networks, promatoras groups/community health workers, tribes).
The Collaboration Worksheet will help you fine tune your list of organizations with the most potential. The first part of the checklist screens which organizations meet the criteria as a possible partner. The second part of this tool helps you determine an organization’s potential for collaboration, identify what roles it might be able to play and lay the groundwork for your approach.
Prioritize Your List
Prioritize the list of organizations to approach based on strategic considerations such as which prospects:
- Have the greatest capacity to reach the most people?
- Have the greatest geographic reach or are best positioned to introduce and expand the programs into a high-priority underserved area?
- Are the best match in terms of your vision and goals? For example, who already has a stake in arthritis?
- Appear to be the easiest with whom to start and maintain a long-term partnership?
- Have decision-making authority and/or the greatest amount of influence?
- Have or have access to resources in the form of funding, staff, expertise, research skills, policy analysis skills, data, leadership, visible champions, facilitation and coordination skills, credibility, access to decision-makers, access to networks & partners, etc.
Clarify Roles and Commitments
- Respective roles of your organization and your partners for strategy design, implementation, and evaluation should be clearly defined, agreed upon, and documented to ensure long-term success.
- Broaden awareness of the arthritis physical activity interventions and their benefits. Market research has shown that there is a low level of awareness among consumers about the availability and benefits of effective physical activity strategies for adults with arthritis. Targeted marketing strategies with a broader reach are needed to increase the number of participants.
- Work with partners to identify the type of environmental or policy change you are seeking, and how best to accomplish that end.
- Document and share progress and impact. As you design your strategies, consider how you will monitor and measure success. Specific benchmarks and outcome indicators should be identified and data collected to ensure that they can be tracked. Examining progress and impact helps identify areas for improvement and builds stronger partnerships. Celebrate successes and use lessons learned and identified strengths to grow the partnership and its outputs.