While Collaborator Magazine is all about bringing people together, on a day-to-day basis, it’s best to recognize that conditions change. So in the interest of being realistic, it’s good to accept that just as friendships may come and go, so will partnerships. The more formal the partnership, the more structured the commitment, the more difficult it may be to withdraw, if certain components are not put in place beforehand.
On the whole range of partnerships, some non-profits in particular may just have a verbal agreement – “I’ll refer clients your way if you send them my way”. If it works, great. If not, then the relationship may simply dissolve or atrophy with no long-term impact. The partnership may only be for the duration of a particular project. In which case, then the end should be clearly defined as being tied to say, a grant’s terms. If, however, contracts are drawn up and it is clear what everyone is bringing to the table – then it should also be clear what is expected when they are at the table, the conditions for excusing them from the table, and then a clear delineation of what they may take from the table when they leave. In a quick survey of how to break up a business partnership, many entrepreneurs likened this to the prenuptial agreement of a marriage. By having the terms for dissolution or severance clearly laid out, it can give all parties the peace of mind to know what the worst case scenario will actually entail. Just knowing this can take a lot of stress off the parties. If the terms are not laid out, things can get really messy.
Partnerships are crucial for carrying out our missions. But it is important to remember that like everything else, they’re temporary. How long they last, and how they end, are important considerations that shouldn’t be neglected. After all, being clear and up-front contributes to good partnerships.