How to write a partnering policy

It’s ideal for using when you are setting up the foundations for partnership – it guides the way in which the organisation enters into and manages partnerships. 

This tool is one of seven tools in our How to Strengthen Collaboration toolkit for civil society organisations. PDF and Word checklist versions of this individual resource are available for download at the bottom of the page.

A strong partnering policy document has the following characteristics:

  • Provides an organisation with guiding principles, values and ‘rules’ that help its staff or members to make logical operational decisions now and in the future; to ensure consistency and efficiency in these decisions, as well as to reduce organisational risk
  • Be fixed over a long duration, but reviewed at periodic intervals and/or as circumstances significantly change
  • Apply to decision-making which is expected to take place regularly or on a repetitive basis; in the case of a partnering policy, it should apply to the process of assessing and approving new partners and partnerships
  • Have a clearly defined audience, which will vary depending on the nature of the organisation and policy, but would generally include higher levels of management, who are responsible for ensuring that decisions are made in line with organisational policies
  • You may want to include key members of the intended audience in the design of the policy to ensure complete agreement on its implementation; ensure that anyone invited to comment fully understands the purpose of partnering to your organisation as well as the purpose of the policy

A partnering policy does not:

  • Determine the content of a strategy; instead, it is subordinate to strategy in that it helps in the implementation of an organisational strategy
  • Provide detailed guidance for implementation of activities – its focus instead is on the principles and rules for decision-making

Top tip: In the case of a partnering policy, it can be useful to have an ‘external’ version of the policy so that potential partners know what to expect if they are entering into a partnership with this organisation. Alternatively, if the policy is kept short and simple, then it can be shared as it is.

Purpose / background / context / rationale

  • Purpose of the document
  • Mandate/purpose of the organisation
  • Why partnerships are important to the organisation (one sentence only – since this is expanded upon later)
  • The ‘unique selling point’ of the organisation as a partner

Applicability / scope

  • Setting out to whom the policy/document applies (the ‘audience’) and in what circumstances
  • Definitions of ‘partner’, ‘partnership’, and different types of entities with which the organisation in question may partner – such as private sector, business, civil society, NGO, etc.

Partnership vision

  • Describe the types of issues the organisation wants to address, or activities it wants to undertake, through partnership
  • Describe the expected/hoped for added value of partnerships for both the organisation itself and the achievement of its goals (see Tool 2: Value Assessment Framework)
  • Describe the expected added value to the organisation’s partners (see Tool 2 – Value Assessment Framework)
  • Describe the different kinds of resources that might be exchanged and combined through partnership (financial, technical, human, etc.)

Values and principles

  • Outline the values of the organisation
  • If applicable, mention any standards that guide the work of the organisation
  • Set-out the principles the organisation expects all partnerships to follow; partnership principles typically include:
    • Transparency
    • Equity
    • Mutual benefit
    • Mutual accountability
    • Results orientation
  • Reference to other relevant policies or standards that partners would need to respect (if applicable)

Potential partners

  • What characteristics would the ideal partner organisation have?(in terms of sector, goals, ethics, reputation, etc.)
  • List the characteristics of organisations that would be subject to higher scrutiny prior to be taken on as partners
  • List the characteristics of organisations that would always be excluded from partnering

Partnership selection

  • Provide a brief summary of the process through which partners are vetted and partnerships approved – this is likely to be complemented by a Due Diligence and Approvals process (see Tool 3: Partnership Approval Process)
  • List the key factors that should be taken into account when deciding whether or not to pursue a partnership, namely:
    • Added value that the partnership will  bring to achievement of the organisation’s mission (‘mission value’)
    • Sufficient resources to enter into the partnership, and balance between costs and benefits
    • Interest/motivation of the partner
    • Reputation, capacity, values, and mission of the partner
    • Level of risk associated with the partner/partnership
    • Other benefits the partnership will bring  to the organisation (‘organisational value’)

This tool is available for download in English:


This resource was developed by GNDR and The Partnering Initiative as part of the Evidence and Collaboration for Inclusive Development project.

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