How to collaborate for your ILC project

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

The information in the following blog is correct at the time of posting. Read the latest updates here.

Generally speaking, your capacity to collaborate and develop valuable partnerships has never been more important than it is right now.

With the changing nature of funding in the community services industry, our capacity to seize new opportunities often requires organisations to work together in a variety of new ways. Thankfully this is a trait we’re very good at in this industry.

So, if we’re so good at working together, why does the notion of forming a partnership overwhelm us?

Quite rightly, Fran Connelly points out in her book How to Thrive under the NDIS that: “For the purposes of supporting positive change, it may be more helpful to see partnerships as simply an intention to seek out alliances and work collaboratively with like-minded organisations with the same core values, who share a similar vision and mission.”

So, where do you start and how do you make a partnership work?

More specifically, where do you start and how do you make a partnership work when you want to apply for an ILC grant?

We’ve identified these seven fundamentals:

1. Know why you’re forming a partnership/collaboration

What are you trying to achieve?
Given we’re specifically talking about developing partnerships in an ILC context here, have you worked out what activity you’re putting forward for funding?

If you want more information on that, check out our article on that topic here: Making a case.

Before you even start to look for a partner, you should be clear on what your organisation is trying to achieve.

  • What is the vision for your project? Who will it benefit and what outcomes are you expecting to achieve?
  •  How is having a partner going to help you achieve your project goals?
  • Do you really need a partner to achieve your project goals? If you do, how will that partner help the project?
  • Do they come to the project with a specific skill set that’s needed? Perhaps they can reach the ideal audience better? Or maybe they can bring additional funding and resources to further the project goals.

Incredible things can result from a well-thought through partnership with the right person/group/organisation.

2. What kind of partnership is right for you?

While partnerships take on many forms, the following four types of strategic alliance are those identified in the ILC Toolkit:

Collaboration (less integrated)

  • Organisations may share information, publicise support, or partner on an initiative for a limited time or a specific issue
  • Governance remains separate
  • Informal partnership

Integrated support functions

  • Organisations share operational functions (e.g. IT, HR, finance) then each deliver on separate, but aligned goals
  • Governance remains separate
  • May create new legal entity to administer common services or manage programs (e.g. Joint Venture, Parent Subsidiary) partnership or Management Service org)

Integrated service delivery

  • Organisations maintain separate operations but integrate their service delivery to achieve better outcomes
  • Governance remains separate
  • May create new legal entity to administer common services or manage programs (e.g. Joint Venture, Parent Subsidiary) partnership or Management Service org)

Merger (more integrated)

  • Organisations merge their legal structure, operations and service delivery to achieve one goal
  • Governance combined or legally linked
  • No agreement needed

3. Who is the best fit?

Now you’ve worked through what you’re trying to achieve and what model of partnership/collaboration you think will most likely work best, it’s time to have a think about who you can partner with on all of this.

Start with a short list of people/groups/organisations that share your values and mission.

From there you can further refine that list through due diligence.

In her book How to Thrive under the NDIS, Fran Connelly says that for a partnership to work, you need to know your fundamentals.
She says: “consider your vision, mission and brand values, and ask yourself if this potential partner is a brand fit for you and if you are for them (don’t waste your time if there is any doubt on this point).”

Your new partner can come from anywhere, but regardless of whether they’re an individual, a community group, another service provider or a corporate entity, their mission and values still need to align with yours.

This applies whether you’re the one initiating the partnership, or whether someone else is approaching you.

4. What’s in it for someone who partners with you?

Always consider the motives of your potential partner before you formalise a partnership agreement.

This needs to be a mutually beneficial set-up. Both parties need to be getting something of value out of the partnership. That value could be represented by just about anything (e.g. audience reach, runs on the board, access to resources and so forth), but it is a critical success factor.

5. Make contact – do they want to work with you? If not, move on.

From your organisation’s perspective, you’ve laid all the ground-work. You’ve worked out what you want, how you’re going to make it work and who you ideally want to be your partner.

Next step, making contact and pitching your idea to them.

Obviously, this is going to be a whole lot easier if you have an existing relationship with the person or organisation with whom you want to partner.

Assuming you don’t have that existing relationship however, then start with a phone call to the decision-maker, give them an overview of your thoughts and ask them for a formal meeting.

The fabulous folks at have a fantastic article that will help you with this –9 Elements of an irresistible business pitch – which we highly recommend you checking out.

6.Set-up good processes and systems

A new partnership is no different to any new project. It needs to start with a solid plan and have the processes and systems in place that will accommodate success.

So, once you’ve got that partner in place, your first step needs to be a co-designed project plan.

That project plan needs to be really clear about who is responsible/accountable for what actions. There should be no doubt about anyone’s role in the success of your collaborative effort.

Outline how decisions will be made throughout the course of the partnership. When will milestones be reached and what are the expectations? What are the communication protocols?

Detail it all in writing and make sure everyone has agreed on it and has a copy for their reference.

Working your way through the ILC Outcomes Story Builder will help you to develop the foundations of your partnership as well as your ILC Grant Funding application.

7. Monitor and evaluate

Also crucial to the plan we mentioned above is a clear strategy for monitoring and evaluating the success of the partnership and the project.

  • How do you know what’s working? What are your indicators of progress and success?
  • How frequently are you going to check in with everyone in the partnership on these indicators?
  • What are you going to do about any failing indicators?

All of these things need to be nutted out upfront and should be clearly documented in your partnership agreement and project plan.

Need more?

The CSIA ­– in partnership with NDS – are delivering workshops across Queensland to help you understand how you and your organisation/community group can work to support inclusion and apply for an ILC grant.

The workshops will help you define your ideas, plan meaningful activities and projects, access grant writing support, and bring your innovation to market.

You will gain access to the information and tools you need to become more inclusive of people with disability, plus you will receive training on how to meet the requirements of the ILC grant process.

We will also give you the tools to test your activity against the new ILC outcomes models, as well as provide a place to find collaboration opportunities.

No matter where you are in the ILC process, you will benefit from attending the workshops.

They have been created to support you through the entire journey, from idea development through to preparing your application.

Everyone in the community – business owners, community clubs, professionals, Local Area Coordinators just to name a few – are encouraged to attend.

Other resources

Which kind of collaboration is right for you?

The four types of collaboration

9 elements of an irresistible business pitch

5 secrets to landing the perfect partnership

Related articles

What we learnt from the Partnership Broker’s Association