Building Successful Partnerships

June 24, 2014 – Investors Group Toronto

“Interactive and an excellent example of partnership demonstrated” – Participant

On  June 24, 2014 at Investors group, the PINs team welcomed Dorene Weston of Full Circle Consulting Inc. and Elga Nikolova of e-Nova Consulting, who spoke to the group about how our PINs associations and leaders can build strategic partnerships. 16 PINs leaders and 2 partners came together to learn about how to build successful partnerships. Partnerships can take place for a variety of reasons including: to share information and knowledge, serve and reach members more effectively and provide new programs. PINs association leaders wear many hats. They are coordinators, event planners, board members, note-takers, and relationship managers. With so many priorities, it can be very difficult to achieve all of the organization’s goals. Thus, building partnerships with other associations, partner organizations and employers can be helpful in moving your goals forward and in fostering new relationships.

Guest speakers:

Dorene Weston – Full Circle Consulting Inc.

Elga Nikolovae-Nova Consulting


To begin, Dorene and Elga identified the difference between partnerships and collaboration.  A partnership is an arrangement in which parties agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests. Partnerships can be formal, informal, long, short term, between volunteer organizations, corporations, government or non-profit organizations and operational, strategic, or a combination of the two. Whereas collaborations reflect more as working with each other to do a task and to achieve shared goals. Collaboration is usually limited to a specific task or event and requires less commitment than a partnership.

The best partnerships, they emphasized, are those that create synergy. In order to create synergy you must have:

1) Strategy: A plan of action towards a vision in the future to help you thrive and survive.

2) Trust: Clear and open expectations, trust the expertise of the partner, commit fully and follow through on promises, look at what you can give without burning out. Most of all: be realistic!

3) Structure: It is important for teams to spend most of their time on progress and the rest on tasks. An effective way to build structure is through a partnership agreement. Having flexibility, open communication and shared information are important in order to create a partnership.

4) Resources: Both money and people are important resources required to building a partnership. Coordination is important because you must view each other as collaborators rather than rivals.

Using two different case studies, Dorene and Elga brought our PINs leaders and partners together to discuss partnership examples. Participants identified the factors and circumstances involved in a bad partnership model, as well as tools, resources and markers of an excellent partnership model. This exemplified how important it is to have clear communication, trust amongst the two groups and a structure with some flexibility for unforeseeable circumstances that may occur down the road. For PINs leaders and partners, partnership building and sustaining these relations are important in their internal and external relations. Reaching consensus, setting clear expectations and understanding that there are differences in organizational values are key tools in building a successful partnership model.

Thank you to our participants and our presenters, Dorene Weston and Elga Nikolova.


  • Effective and clear communication is the key to every project
  • Reach out and connect with organizations that share your philosophy and core values
  • When building a partnership, think of benefits for both organizations; it should be a win-win situation!