Enhanced Partnerships - Additional Tips: Collaborative Research

Additional Tips: Collaborative Research

Questioning Partnership

In addition to the strategies listed above, it can be useful to ask some preliminary questions before embarking on your project with your community partner. You and your key contact may wish to brainstorm together to answer the following:

  1. What can each prospective partner bring to the table?
  2. Which stakeholders have an interest in forming a partnership?
  3. Who might be willing to join your collaboration?
  4. Will the community support the partnership?
  5. Are other potential partners willing to share their resources and capacities?
  6. How do the interests of each potential partner fit into the broader collaboration?
  7. Should you form a loose or formal partnership?
  8. How inclusive (or exclusive) does your organization need to be?
  9. How long do you expect individual projects conducted as part of the partnership to last?
  10. What is the community partner’s end goal? 
  11. What is your end goal?


Tips for Success
  • Take steps to develop an inclusive partnership. Make sure there’s a benefit to partnering on both sides.
  • Remind community partners that participating college students are young adults with many additional commitments who may not be familiar with the organization or goals. They also have limited time to commit to the project, despite their best intentions.
  • Start moving your plans forward as quickly as possible. As you wait for information or contacts, you may end up losing momentum.
  • Designate responsible individuals and assign responsibilities in writing. Memos of understanding can be great for this purpose!
  • It can be useful to collaborate on a mission statement.
  • Remember to include partners in decision-making as needed—it can help to build a sense of camaraderie and empowerment.
  • Think about determining some shared, measurable goals that your partnership can readily accomplish.
  • Be responsive to key stakeholders.
  • As appropriate, volunteer to participate on other tasks or committees with your partner’s organization.
  • Nurture the partnership and check in regularly with key personnel, even if it’s just to say hello!


Still More Tips for Success

Learn about each other’s services and share resources
Join existing coalitions and networks
Meet with leaders individually and in small groups in informal settings
Make sure to communicate your achievements
Work together to minimize miscommunication and to create positive expectations
Think about ways that you can continue creating service learning opportunities
Work together on collaborative grants, publications, or other forms of community outreach
Remember that things change—be flexible

(Adapted from materials developed by the American Library Association and Andy Coe