Quality Principle 5. Collaboration

Development and humanitarian responses are optimised through effective coordination, collaboration and partnership.

Rationale

This Quality Principle recognises that the complexity of creating development change demands multiple actors working together in different ways and that quality collaborations are based on mutual respect, transparency and understanding.

Quality Principle 5 is implemented through three Commitments by ACFID Members.

Commitments

Commitment 5.1 We respect and understand those with whom we collaborate.

Compliance Indicators

Compliance with the Commitments will be assessed against the following Compliance Indicators. All of the applicable Compliance Indicators must be met by every ACFID Member to be considered compliant with the Code. Each of the Compliance Indicators has one or more compliance Verifiers. Verifiers are the description of evidence that is required to substantiate compliance with each Compliance Indicator. Guidance is also provided. 

5.1.1 Members work intentionally with others in mutually respectful ways.

Verifier

Policy, statement or guidance document that commits the Member to working in mutually respectful ways.

Guidance

Members will have different approaches to this depending on their values and culture. A helpful guide to partnership and partnering principles can be found on The Partnering Initiative website. A good example of an ACFID member’s approach to working with others, Oxfam's Partnership Principles, can be found in the Resources Section below.  

5.1.2 Members undertake due diligence and capacity assessments of organisations with whom they work in formal partnerships.

Verifier

A documented assessment process that includes:

  • Alignment with Members’ values and objectives.
  • Governance and legal registration.
  • Financial systems.
  • Reference checks of partners against prohibited entities listings.
  • Capacity assessment for implementation of key safeguarding and risk policies (e.g. child protection).

Guidance

Undertaking due diligence and capacity assessments is a mechanism that enables Members to identify potential strengths and risks and inform their approach to working with partners. An example of a capacity assessment tool can be found in the Resources Section below. 

Good Practice Indicators

The following Good Practice Indicators describe a higher standard of practice than that set out in the Compliance Indicators. While Members do not need to meet the Good Practice Indicators to be considered compliant with the Code, they will self-assess against these indicators once every three years. This provides a clear pathway for Members to strengthen and improve practice over time.

  • Members have staff with specialised partnership skills.
  • Members undertake comprehensive joint capacity assessment with partners. This may include areas such as human resources, project cycle management systems, risk management, financial management and policy compliance (these areas are additional to those specified in the Compliance Indicator for this Commitment).
  • Members have regular meetings with partners and/or collaborators where open feedback and dialogue is facilitated.
  • Members identify, explain and promote the role of their partners with appropriate attribution for their work, to the public and external stakeholders.

GUIDANCE AND RESOURCES 

Good Practice Guidance

Here are some practical suggestions for your organisation to further deepen and improve practice over time. 

Governance and strategy

  • Articulate the principles of partnership in all of your organisation’s key documents such as statements of vision, mission and values, and strategic frameworks
  • Include performance indicators and targets related to partnership in key documents such as your strategic framework, and operations, business and work plans.
  • Ensure the board, management committee or senior management monitors these performance indicators and targets to ensure accountability.
  • Include orientation to the importance of partnership and the attitudes required to promote strong and effective partnerships in the induction of board members.
  • Develop governance and strategy-development processes that include partners in some way.  For example, at program level, establish a clear mechanism to jointly govern operational decisions.  At organisational level, jointly develop strategies with partners. Or, at global level, think about including partners in governance processes through yearly consultative councils, periodic relationship “health checks”, etc.  

Policy and procedures

  • Develop a policy statement on approaches to partnership which includes:
    • Recognition and respect for the strengths and unique skills of each partner
    • The centrality of partners and partnership to effective development
    • Mutuality of contribution and learning
  • Communicate this policy to staff, partners and supporters.
  • Integrate partners and their roles into all relevant phases of the project cycle:
    • Role of the partner in project identification;
    • Role of the partner in project design;
    • Role of the partner in project implementation;
    • Role of the partner in project monitoring, reporting and evaluation, including reflections and lessons learnt forums;
    • Role of the partner in engaging community in each of the above.
    • Role of the partner in influencing advocacy initiatives.
  • Where a partner has several other like-minded partners, joint capacity assessments may be undertaken to reduce burden.
  • Design procedures for establishing relations with partners – partner agreements, project agreements, etc., ensuring that these mechanisms are suitable for an “authentic” partnership.

Engagement with Partners

  • Commit to understanding your partners’ broader mandate and work
  • Provide opportunities for partners to understand your broader mandate and work
  • Choose methods of communication taking into account power imbalances, language and cultural barriers and accessibility of information
  • Invest time and resources in your partners’ broader mandate and strategy and capacity beyond specific projects considering for example non-project grants for training, systems development, etc
  • Host staff secondments from and between partner organisations
  • Link partners to your own development networks to assist their broader mandate
  • Develop a joint agreement on the elements of effective partnership and how to manage any conflicts that may arise
  • Share partnership performance indicators and progress towards targets with your partners
  • Undertake two-way performance assessments where partners assess each other’s performance together
  • Train your own staff and partner staff on the importance of partnership and the attitudes required to promote strong and effective partnerships
  • Develop and ensure that all staff have the necessary personal and interpersonal skills, attitudes and behaviours to listen and receive feedback
  • Give partners the opportunity to respond and edit any marketing materials representing their organisation or their work prior to publication
  • Design and communicate compliance requirements in a way that recognises joint responsibility for compliance, builds trust and respect, and recognises partners’ strengths and contributions.
  • Negotiate and discuss any changes to funding arrangements with partners before implementation and in a way that takes the needs of the project and communities into account.
  • Encourage staff to recognise opportunities to learn from your partners
  • Ending partnerships well is important. Provide appropriate notice when you are planning to end funding, either at the conclusion of an agreed project or due to other factors
  • After ending long-term partnerships consider a jointly arranged event to celebrate all that has been achieved through the partnership.
  • Capacity Assessment
  • Develop together with partners, a process for assessing and understanding the capacity of each partner.
  • Allow for two-way assessments and self-assessments focusing on reflection, learning and capacity-strengthening rather than assessment of competency
  • Use the assessments to create plans to strengthen the capacity of both partners

Resources

Commitment 5.2 We have a shared understanding of respective contributions, expectations, responsibilities and accountabilities of all parties.

Compliance Indicators

Compliance with the Commitments will be assessed against the following Compliance Indicators. All of the applicable Compliance Indicators must be met by every ACFID Member to be considered compliant with the Code. Each of the Compliance Indicators has one or more compliance Verifiers. Verifiers are the description of evidence that is required to substantiate compliance with each Compliance Indicator. Guidance is also provided. 

5.2.1 Members negotiate shared goals and respective contributions with partners and those they collaborate with.

Verifier

Policy, statement or guidance document committing the Member to partnership and/or collaboration and the approaches it takes.

For formal partnerships, partnership agreement template or examples of partnership agreements that consistently describe:

  • Value and contribution of each party.
  • Shared goals, roles and responsibilities of all parties.
  • Financial and non-financial resources and support offered by and required of each party.
  • Dispute resolution process.
  • Mutual accountabilities for reporting, sharing information and communication.

Guidance

A helpful guide to partnership and partnering principles can be found on The Partnering Initiative website, a link to which can be found in the Resources Section below.  A good example of how one of ACFID's members have documented their approach to partnership is Oxfam's Partnership Principles, which can be found in the Resources Section below. 

An example of a sample partnership agreement can be found in the Resources Section below.

5.2.2 Members coordinate with and complement the work of others.

Verifier

Development and humanitarian initiatives consistently show evidence of coordinating with others.

Guidance

There will be many variations on how Members show evidence of coordinating with others. Examples might include participating in consortiums, cluster groups, joint planning or evaluation missions, sharing evidence for advocacy initiatives or participating in referral systems.

Good Practice Indicators

The following Good Practice Indicators describe a higher standard of practice than that set out in the Compliance Indicators. While Members do not need to meet the Good Practice Indicators to be considered compliant with the Code, they will self-assess against these indicators once every three years. This provides a clear pathway for Members to strengthen and improve practice over time.

  • Members have documented partnership management procedures set out in a manual or equivalent.
  • Members provide training for relevant staff, volunteers and partners on their partnership related policies, procedures and tools.  
  • Members periodically review formal agreements with partners through a process which encourages mutual discussion and feedback.

GUIDANCE AND RESOURCES 

Good Practice Guidance

Here are some practical suggestions for your organisation to further deepen and improve practice over time. 

Engagement with Partners

  • Devote adequate time to discussions between you and your partners to develop partnership arrangements whether these are for time bound project activities or broad ongoing engagements
  • Invite partners to develop content for agreements
  • Discuss and negotiate the content of agreements with partners rather than imposing predetermined templates or contracts
  • If using standard partnership agreement templates as a basis for negotiating the terms, conditions and content of agreements with partners, ensure these facilitate agreement rather than impose a particular vision or idea. 
  • Conduct discussions in a manner which encourages the autonomy of partners and recognises the unique strengths and contributions of all parties, and is sensitive to power imbalances, language and cultural barriers
  • Use the process of signing agreements to acknowledge the autonomy of partners and the shared value that comes from partnership.
  • When discussing partnership, make sure the joint purpose of serving the community stays central, whether the partnership is focused on capacity building, drawing evidence for advocacy initiatives, collaboration for learning or to influence duty bearers, or program implementation.  

Partnership Agreements

  • Develop clear guidelines for the establishment of partnerships that include documented partnerships agreements. Documentation could vary from an exchange of letters, a strategic level agreement broadly governing an ongoing partnership or a partnership agreement covering a time bound set of activities. Documented agreements ensure that organisations clearly spell out what they can expect from one another. The process of signing agreements acknowledges the autonomy of partners and the shared value that comes from partnership. As important as the documents themselves, is the process of discussion and agreement of the content between signatory organisations and partner.
  • Develop a policy statement on approaches to partnership which includes a commitment to joint negotiation (between signatory organisations and partners) of respective roles and responsibilities.
  • Encourage partners to develop similar documentation with their other partners and key stakeholders
  • Regularly review partnership documents to ensure they are up to date and reflect the needs, experience and changing contexts of the program.
  • Partnership agreements or other such documentation could include:
  • An outline of agreed roles and responsibilities between partners in the support and implementation of projects
  • Resources and support needed to achieve identified development outcomes
  • Resources and support needed to fulfil respective roles and responsibilities
  • Whether the agreement is ongoing or for time-bound activities
  • The strengths and contributions of each party to the agreement
  • Broader organisational development objectives or participation in each parties’ activities
  • Joint involvement in communications, marketing and development awareness-raising activities
  • Agreements for joint training
  • Agreed mechanisms for dispute resolution and conflict management
  • An agreement on terms for termination
  • Regularly assess joint progress against agreed roles and commitments to ensure mutual accountability
  • Ensure that all mechanisms (agreements, procedures, etc.) place equal value on financial and non-financial contributions to the partnership to help balance power relations by highlighting the kinds of non-financial contributions often made by the local partner.
  • Create a partnership agreement in discussion and negotiation with partners rather than imposing predetermined templates or contracts.
  • Include clauses describing the value add of each party
  • Invite partners to develop content for the agreement
  • Develop a joint agreement on the elements of effective partnership and how to manage any conflicts that may arise
  • Develop a communications policy statement that acknowledges respective roles and responsibilities clearly, honestly and accurately.
  • Communicate this to your stakeholders (your partners, members and the public) (see Standard C.1.2) using communication platforms such as websites, newsletters and reports.
  • Reference the full name of your partners in communications except where the partner has expressly requested for this not to happen, for security or other concerns related to identification
  • Acknowledge the roles and responsibilities of partners in communications with other in-country stakeholders.  

Coordination

  • Partner with governments, where appropriate, and vulnerable communities in disaster preparedness, planning and risk reduction
  • Identify other actors who you may be able to support in emergency responses
  • Join, develop, maintain and contribute to emergency response networks
  • Require field staff to report on network meeting attendance and lessons learned
  • Where the cluster approach has been implemented, participate in cluster meetings
  • Contribute to joint needs assessment, monitoring and evaluation activities
  • Develop field manuals and engagement guidelines that emphasise the need for coordination
  • Maintain mechanisms for effective information management and reporting
  • Undertake research to identify other players working in same sectors or space as your organisation
  • Organize coordination meetings to share information and identify areas where investments could be shared or allocated amongst the group.
  • Consider sharing responsibilities and resources amongst similar organisation working in the same area
  • Coordinate with government agencies where appropriate
  • Consider working in consortiums 

Resources

Commitment 5.3 We invest in the effectiveness of our collaborations and partnerships.

Compliance Indicators

Compliance with the Commitments will be assessed against the following Compliance Indicators. All of the applicable Compliance Indicators must be met by every ACFID Member to be considered compliant with the Code. Each of the Compliance Indicators has one or more compliance Verifiers. Verifiers are the description of evidence that is required to substantiate compliance with each Compliance Indicator. Guidance is also provided. 

5.3.1 Members support mutually identified capacity- strengthening strategies with their partners.

Verifier

Development and humanitarian initiatives consistently show evidence of mutual learning and supporting and building capacity of partners.           

Guidance

There will be many variations on how Members show evidence of building the capacity of their partners. It is important that strategies are identified mutually, so that they respond to the priorities of partners.  Examples might include providing training, mentoring, engagement in communities of practice, support to develop policies or systems, support for new innovations, or financial support.

5.3.2 Members assess their collaborations and partnerships.

Verifier

Documented evidence of the periodic and joint review of key collaborations and partnerships.

Guidance

Partnerships need to constantly review their purpose, goals, and effectiveness. There are many variations on how members might work with their partners to undertake these reviews. For example, they might be facilitated by an external consultant, assessed through a survey, undertaken in an annual roundtable, or simply undertaken informally through discussion. There are some helpful questions for evaluating and monitoring partnerships in the ' Partnerships: Frameworks for Working Together' tool which can be found in the Resources Section below.

Good Practice Indicators

The following Good Practice Indicators describe a higher standard of practice than that set out in the Compliance Indicators. While Members do not need to meet the Good Practice Indicators to be considered compliant with the Code, they will self-assess against these indicators once every three years. This provides a clear pathway for Members to strengthen and improve practice over time.

  • Members develop documented capacity strengthening plans in collaboration with partners.
  • Members periodically review the effectiveness of their capacity strengthening initiatives.
  • Members use a formal process to enable partner feedback on the members’ performance and the partnership itself.

GUIDANCE AND RESOURCES 

Good Practice Guidance

Here are some practical suggestions for your organisation to further deepen and improve practice over time. 

Capacity Strengthening

  • Build and maintain robust relationships throughout the development process with partner organisations, local people and other stakeholders, and invest the required time to do so
  • Ensure relationships and partnerships reflect the principles of equality, mutual respect and transparency
  • Invest time to learn about your partner’s philosophies, objectives and approaches and share yours with them to build mutual understanding and respect
  • Ensure a clear shared understanding of the roles and responsibilities of your organisation and your partner
  • Establish agreement on the essential elements of an effective partnership and how this can be jointly monitored with performance indicators and targets
  • Develop plans and budgets with corresponding reporting processes to enable transparency and accountability
  • Jointly define desired successful outcomes and indicators of progress and how they will be assessed and measured. This could involve clearly defined indicators and targets or could be done in a more open-ended manner.
  • Hold events or create opportunities with communities, partners and other stakeholders to share results and progress.

Assessing Effectiveness

  • Jointly with partners, define what partnership effectiveness will look like and develop processes to assess this periodically. Allow partners to lead this process.
  • Ensure such an assessment process is undertaken periodically and this is well communicated with partners so they know they will have regular opportunities to provide feedback.
  • Invest time and resources into periodic meetings or workshops with partners, and other external stakeholders to assess the effectiveness of partnerships
  • Invite partners to reflect on the effectiveness of your organisation and share the findings of this with staff and other stakeholders.

Resources