How to Address Common Partnership Challenges


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Possible Issue

Prevention and Management Strategies

Your key contact retires, is laid off or quits so you no longer have a program champion.


  • Make sure you have and maintain top management buy-in.

  • Establish and maintain relationships with more than one contact in an organization.

The trained leader/ instructor/ program coordinator/ data collection person leaves the agency and so you no longer have someone to deliver/ coordinate the program (and/or submit data records).


  • Aim for training at least two people per site to teach classes.

  • When negotiating upfront, develop a plan to build in adequate personnel to sustain the program over time.

Your grant expires and you can no longer offer free classes/ materials/ training workshops.


  • Begin communication about sustainability from the beginning of the partnership so everyone is
    looking for other sources of funding.

  • Charge something for classes and workshops from the beginning of the program so that participants attach real value to the program and trainings and the introduction of a charge is not a complete shock.

A new CEO/ key decision maker changes the direction of your partner's activities and doesn't recognize the value of your programs.


  • Focus on partnering with organizations that value evidence-based programs and maintaining fidelity to quality programming.

  • Gather data (e.g., on participant reach, effectiveness and satisfaction) from the beginning of the project so you can build a case whenever your programs are questioned.

  • Recruit members of your board who may have influence with the CEO/ decision maker to contact him/her and ask for an audience.

Your partner wants to grow the program
too fast, and you don't have the personnel resources to respond.


  • Be realistic about your needs and the time involved when contemplating a deal with a large partner—don’t overpromise.

  • Agree up-front about piloting the programs in a few sites or on a limited basis and the rate of expansion.

  • Be sure to negotiate an income stream that will allow for your personnel needs to be covered.



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