• The Abundant Community website, developed from books written by Peter Block and John McKnight, provides resources and tools for engaging families and neighborhoods.



Partnerships consist of two or more organizations that collaborate to achieve a common goal through effective use of expertise, personnel, and other resources. Partnerships among the healthcare, government, community, and academic sectors are often formed to facilitate the implementation of EBPs.

  • There are numerous benefits associated with the creation and utilization of partnerships. Several of these are listed below.

  • Maximizing the advantages of the pooled expertise, personnel, and other resources of several organizations.

  • Reducing the direct and indirect costs of implementing health programs.

  • Limiting the duplication of efforts and services.

  • Building trust, sharing, and collaboration among agencies and sectors.

  • Broadening the base of support, including stakeholders and funders.

  • Increasing credibility beyond the scope of any one individual organization.

  • Reaching broader, more diverse audiences.

  • Increasing the likelihood the program will be sustained.

To form a partnership, first clarify the purpose and goals of your organization. Once this is done, identify organizations that have purposes and goals similar to those of your organization. Consider if these organizations have expertise and resources that complement your organization. At this point, you are ready for one of the most difficult tasks of partnership formation: approaching other organizations to propose the partnership. Discussion regarding the possibility of a partnership may be accompanied by site visits and the exchange of literature about the potential partners. If leaders from the proposed partners agree on a partnership, then a partnership agreement that details the rights and responsibilities of each partner should be developed. Once the partnership agreement is in place, the next steps are to collectively identify common goals, select strategies for goal achievement, and assign roles and tasks to each partner.

Successful partnerships

The specific characteristics of successful partnerships can vary in numerous ways. However, several characteristics that consistently produce superior results have been identified. Many of these are described below.

  • Suitable partners — The appropriate partners for a given partnership are those who can collectively carry out the purpose of the partnership. The partners often share similar missions and goals, while having expertise and resources that are complementary.


  • Partnership agreement — A formal partnership agreement, often in the form of a commitment letter or memorandum of understanding, should be generated to provide accountability in regards to roles and responsibilities.


  • Trust — Trust takes time to establish and is built when each partner is honest about its resources and expertise and follows through on its commitments.


  • Clear, mutual purpose and goals — The purpose for which the partnership was developed should be clearly articulated. Jointly determined goals, and strategies to achieve the goals, should be congruent with the missions of each partner and should foster the development of an action plan that describes the roles and responsibilities of each partner.


  • Communication — Partnerships benefit from designated communication methods in order to maintain communication and ensure each partner is kept updated on progress and challenges. Communication methods can include emails, meeting agendas and minutes, online discussion boards, social media, and annual reports.


  • Appropriate accountability and accolade — All partners share in the success or failure of a partnership. While each partner must own up to its designated tasks, finger-pointing or unfair blame for setbacks should be avoided. Likewise, it is good policy to acknowledge the contributions of each partner and celebrate collective accomplishments that are attributed to the partnership.

Community-based participatory approaches

Community-based participatory approaches involve many partners. In these approaches, each stakeholder (e.g., audience member, organization staff member, community official, volunteer) plays a role in needs assessment and program selection. Each stakeholder’s participation is welcomed and valued. There are a lot of benefits to participatory approaches, including those listed below.


  • Community needs, including those related to social and environmental conditions, are identified from a bottom-up or grassroots approach.

  • All stakeholders get an opportunity to express their opinions, even those who traditionally have not had voices.

  • All stakeholders have vested interests in the program.

  • The program has credibility throughout the entire community.

  • The likelihood of sustainability is high due to the wide base of support.

  • The skills learned by stakeholders will empower them to carry out additional programs in the future.

  • The ties and trust formed between stakeholders can benefit the community long after the program is over.

One of the easiest and most common community-based participatory approaches is for an organization interested in implementing a health program to form an advisory board or coalition comprised of representatives from each stakeholder segment. These individuals can brainstorm ideas, provide feedback, and carry out tasks.