Partnering with the Community

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Guiding Principle # 5

Relationships among NORC program partners are continually evolving.

There is a tendency to think of forming partnerships as a straightforward process in which people come together to create a stable group, work through their differences, establish a structure, and then produce programs and services designed to reach agreed-upon results.

The truth is more complex. Partners arrive and depart for many reasons, and take on new roles over time, with each twist affecting the nature, extent, and activities of a partnership. Sometimes, a partner may be participating at the request of a funder, or because of a political mandate. NORC program partners also come to the table at many points in the process—as a program is being formed, once funding has been secured, as new issues are identified and new projects are launched, and at various other stages of development and evolution.

No matter who gets involved, and why, an effective program learns to manage the partnership and pursue the opportunities it provides. Anticipating fluidity, not fighting it, is essential to success.

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