Eight Ways to Think about Strategic Alliances

As the closing of AJCongress (even if it turns out to be temporary) last week shows us, shrinking budgets have caused many organizations to intensify efforts toward something that has been going on for a while: forming strategic alliances.

While alliances can be helpful, Cass Wheeler, former president and CEO of the American Heart Association, urges that two critical steps be taken before an alliance begins.

  1. First, develop a value proposition to guide the partnership strategy. This is a simple statement that defines what you bring to the table and what your organization wants to receive.
  2. Next, think through very carefully the kinds of things you would and would not do in these kinds of relationships and that might vary depending on the type of organization. This kind of thinking should lead to strategies and protocols that will guide negotiations.

Once those steps have been taken, Wheeler suggests that anyone contemplating an alliance consider the following:

  • What is the reputation of the other organization?
  • Will a relationship with this organization make sense to the public?
  • Does a joint initiative fit within your strategic priorities? Does it extend your reach?
  • Does there seem to be a cultural fit as well?
  • What are the projected direct and indirect costs?
  • Will both parties bring synergy to the relationship?
  • Is the relationship exclusive and, if so, is it worth it?
  • Is the process for joint decision-making acceptable and workable?

adapted from an article in The NonProfit Times