How to Research Potential Partners

This tip sheet provides general tips on learning more about potential partners and a set of questions to ask to help you in determining which partners are the best prospects to pursue.

Click here for the PDF version of this tip sheet


  • Obtain the potential partner’s annual report and review its Web site.
  • Search the Internet to learn about its recent activities.
  • Go to the library reference section and seek out information about the potential partner.
  • Check with the Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau to see what information they have about the organization.
  • Ask people you know to introduce you to someone they know within the prospective organization who can provide more information about the potential partner.
  • Identify the person or group of people who might be potential gatekeepers or champions who can help you get your foot in the door. Obtain their contact information.
  • Ask who are the key decision makers or parties who should be involved in developing and approving collaborative agreements. Obtain their contact information.
  • Set up an orientation meeting and interview your identified key contacts.

 Additional Questions to Consider

 Mission and Goals

  • What is the potential partner’s mission and/or vision statement? Will this mission be served if the organization adopts policy and environmental strategies for improving physical activity among adults with arthritis?
  • Is it interested in doing evidence-based programs or interventions to change policies and environmental strategies, and willing to stay true to those programs and interventions?
  • Does it have a known interest in or connection to arthritis?
  • How committed is it to prevention, a public health approach, evidence-based programs, the importance of physical activity and self-management, social equity, and other key concepts?
  • What are its products or services and what projects is it involved in now?
  • Is it interested in getting involved in new partnerships and in offering new interventions? What kind of new strategies are they interested in pursuing?
  • What will be the benefits of the partnership to your organization?

 Organization Structure and Capacity

  • Who are its clients or constituents: People with arthritis and if so, how many? A population likely to have a large percentage of people with arthritis?  Does it have access to specific target populations of interest (such as culturally diverse, rural or otherwise underserved groups)?
  • What is its geographic scope? How many facilities, offices, or sites does it have? Where are these located? During what hours are the facilities open? Do these facilities meet standards for ADA accessibility, warm water pools, etc.?
  • Is it willing and able to provide staff or volunteers who could be trained to coordinate and manage interventions for adults with arthritis? Would it be able to pay its staff to oversee the strategies and/or train others do implement them?
  • Is it willing and able to provide staff to coordinate logistics such as recruiting and training leaders, scheduling classes, reserving rooms, collecting data, etc.?
  • Is its organizational structure centralized or decentralized? How are decisions made about implementing new programs? How difficult will it be to get a commitment to offering the interventions?  Does its key leadership support delivering arthritis-related policies and strategies?
  • Does it have the capacity to market interventions effectively to the community or constituents? What are its communication channels (company newsletter, member Web site etc.)? How does it make its services known within its organization and to the general public?
  • Does it have the financial resources to adopt the policies?  What kind of funding does it have? Where does it get support? Could it provide funding to support training and other implementation costs? Will it charge for access to the intervention? If so, who will set the fees? Who will retain the income?
  • What kind of equipment will it be able to provide? Do they have computers, audio-visual/video, or exercise equipment?
  • Is it willing to report program data as requested and adhere to quality standards? What are its existing accountability mechanisms for similar types of interventions or community projects?
  • In view of its volume of commitments, how much time is it likely to commit to arthritis efforts?
  • What will your organization need to bring to the table to make this a successful partnership? Will you need to be responsible for funding, training, marketing support, staff support, etc.?
  • What kind of ongoing support will it need after policy and environmental strategies are adopted?

Partnership/ Community Program History

  • Does it have an existing relationship with the AF or the state health department? How well has it related to and interacted with AF or state health department staff?
  • What is its previous involvement with community activities?
  • What are its current activities, strategies, and policies regarding arthritis and/or other chronic diseases?  Do they have documented success in achieving the goals of their efforts?
  • With what other organizations or coalitions is it involved with or has it worked?
  • How has it partnered in the past and at what levels? Has it served as an event sponsor or program collaborator? Has it shared information or resources, etc.? Has it played an effective role in similar types of past or present initiatives?
  • Has it consistently fulfilled expectations?  Is it reliable, accessible, and committed to supporting similar types of efforts over the long term?
  • How stable is it? Its top management team? Its employees?

 Community Standing

  • How is it regarded by the community? Does the target audience view it as a credible agency?
  • Has it been involved in any controversies that might affect a collaborative effort? Are any of the organization’s members or leaders considered controversial within the community?
  • What is its competition? Who else does similar work or provides similar services to the community? Is it the best organization in its category?
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