How to Research Potential Partners


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  • Obtain the potential partner’s annual report and review its Web site.
  • Search the Internet to learn about its recent activities. For example, use
  • 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 to do programs. Obtain their contact information.
  • Set up an orientation meeting and interview your identified key contacts.



  • AF chapters can contact the AF, National Office, Major Donor Relations Department for assistance with researching major corporations. Call 404-872-7100 and ask to be directed to the Major Donor Relations Department, Research Specialist.
  • Coordinate your research with other departments. For example, work with your chapters’ development department and the AF, National Office Strategic Marketing Alliances Department.



 Mission and Goals

  • What is the potential partner’s mission and/or vision statement? Will this mission be served if the organization adopts AF programs?

  • Is it interested in doing evidence-based programs, and willing to stay true to the programs?

  • Does it have a known interest in or connection to arthritis?

  • How committed is it to concepts that are consistent with CDC’s and the AF’s public health mission? Is it committed 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 programs? What kind of new projects are they interested in pursuing?

  • What will be the benefits of the partnership to the AF and/or state health department?


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 possible program delivery points (facilities/offices) does it have? Could these facilities serve as host sites for AF classes? Where are these located? Does it have conference rooms and classrooms that could be open to the target audience and suitable for classes? During what hours are the facilities open? Do these facilities meet the AF program standards such as ADA accessibility, warm water pools, etc.?

  • Is it willing and able to provide staff or volunteers who could be trained to conduct the AF programs? Would it be able to pay its staff to conduct the programs and/or include teaching in their paid job responsibilities?

  • Is it willing and able to provide staff to coordinate the AF program 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 programs?  Does its key leadership support delivering the AF programs?

  • Does it have the capacity to market effectively the programs to the community? 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 program(s)?  What kind of funding does it have? Where does it get support? Could it provide funding to support training and other program costs? Will it charge for classes? 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 programs or community projects?

  • In view of its volume of commitments, how much time is it likely to commit to the AF program dissemination?

  • What will the AF and/or state health department need to bring to the table to make this a successful partnership? Will the AF or state health department be responsible for funding, training, marketing support, staff support, etc.?

  • What kind of ongoing support will it need after the AF programs 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 chronic diseases?  Do they have documented success in achieving the goals of their efforts?

  • With what other organizations or coalitions is it involved with/ has it worked?

  • How has it partnered in the past and at what levels? Has it served as an event sponsor, program collaborator, sharing of 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 and/or your target population? 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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