Ensure a successful partnership

Building a successful working relationship with your community partner in an employee community engagement (ECE) programme needs to be planned and thought about carefully.

It is important to make sure that both sides’ objectives and motivations are clearly understood and that there are no hidden agendas.

Understand your community partner

Try to understand the world in which your partner operates:

  • culture and language
  • assumptions and prejudices
  • timings, working hours and deadlines
  • internal risks and management practice.
Understand where the common project fits within each organisation.

Be an equal, fair and committed partner


  • Strive for a relationship of equals – it’s important for the community partner not to feel pressured into a project that they’re not committed to.
  • Keep commitments – this holds equally for both parties of course.
  • Be open to negotiation and, if necessary, compromise.

Build a personal and long-lasting relationship

  • Make it a personal relationship – meet the people and don’t limit the relationship to one person on each side.
  • Aim for a sustainable and long-term relationship rather than a short-term partnership.

Plan, track and communicate progress together

  • Plan together and consult with your partner about your social objectives.
  • Track and communicate progress widely within both organisations.
  • Plan a common communications plan to communicate and celebrate your joint achievements.
  • Plan timelines, reviews, key deliverables and an exit strategy in case anything goes wrong.

Look for new opportunities for mutual benefit

Look for new opportunities for co-operation for mutual benefit, such as:
  • mentoring and training staff
  • volunteering for administrative or financial roles
  • developing joint team building projects.
In particular, the building of your partner’s staff capacity can only strengthen the relationship.
Be open minded and ambitious about what you can achieve – share your  'bigger pictures' to spot potentially fruitful projects.