Promiscuous Partnership Philosophy – Additional Resources: “Wisdom of Crowds” Checklists 

18th October 2023

This is the amalgamation of results from a Dubai Association Conference workshop and similar sessions held at two editions of the European Association Summit, involving approximately 150 international association executives. Courtesy of Martin Sirk, Global Association Hubs’ International Advisor.

Imagine a much wider range of purposes towards which you can apply partnership solutions! How many of these are you currently attempting to deal with only using the resources of your own association’s staff or volunteers?
It’s amazing how many new potential partners might be willing to team up with you, once you understand their objectives, values, and capacity. And don’t forget, some partners may be for life, but others are for specific projects, regions, or timeframes. Be promiscuous in your partnerships!
Stronger advocacy impact – population            
Increase membership                                      
Spread knowledge more widely                        
Increase certification adoption                         
Increase event attendance                               
Increase event profitability
Develop new events                                
Attract new sponsors/partners & fundraising opportunities          
Appeal to new generations                               
Deliver content in new languages
Access new or improved content
Joint creation of new content 
Reduce overhead % (eg by sharing support services)
Overcome missing IT skills
Reduce direct competition                       
Launch a new product or service                               
Re-engineer an existing product or service                
Obtain support during a crisis                                   
Respond to increased competition
Respond to market disruption
Improve future-proofing/scenario planning
Improve/launch market surveys
Diversify revenue streams
Develop new networking platforms
Boost status via partner’s reputation
Alignment with UN Sustainable Development Goals
Increase profile/visibility
Complementary offerings opportunities
Increase talent pool/scouting options
Accelerated growth
Economies of scale/market size/critical mass
Opportunities for cost cutting or efficiencies
Energy efficiencies
Capacity building
Risk sharing
Leverage assets
Increase influence
Create excitement
Build motivation
Improve waste control/recycling
Incite curiosity
Increase opportunities for new combinations/synergies
Trigger desired change
Obtain access to expert opinions
Access to specialist knowledge or understanding of target clients/customers
Expand networks
Improve inclusion
Link financial & human resources – resource efficiency
Exchange best practices
Increase time efficiency
Combined or co-organised events
Co-creation across multiple areas
Identify/access new leadership
Your own membership (all or sub-sections, eg Chapters – rethink your relationships)
Other complementary associations
Other competitive associations
IT companies (eg App producers; registration software)
Existing sponsors
New potential sponsors (who may be attracted by “partnership”)
Trade show and/or conference organisers
City authorities & agencies
Convention bureaux
Global Association Hubs: Brussels, Dubai, Singapore, Washington DC
EU/UN agencies
Media companies (trade & general)
Bloggers & influencers
Your own critics
PCOs and Association Management Companies (AMCs)
Research institutions
Consultancy companies
Citizens (especially in conference destinations)
Destination suppliers (eg venues)
Venture capitalists/angel investors
Certification, accreditation & standards agencies
Hospitals/Medical schools
Ambassadors/consular bodies & officials
Students (high school/university) & teachers
HR/Employment agencies
Airports/transportation companies
Chefs – F&B leaders/institutions
Start-up communities
Police/fire/emergency services (eg when dealing with crisis)
Tax advisors
Speakers/Celebrity experts
Local thought leaders (eg in your congress destinations)
Licensing bodies
Social influencers
Photographers & videographers
PR, Marketing & Digital agencies
Display companies; florists; decorators
Telecoms companies
Printing companies
Office supply companies
Office rental companies
Have you ever comprehensively audited the value your association could offer to potential partners? Or undertaken a “gap analysis” to identify what assets you would love to take advantage of but don’t possess within your own organisation?
Most new businesses fail; many partnerships also end in divorce or acrimony – understanding the risks, limits, barriers and other “failure factors” in advance is vital if you’re going to design partnerships that deliver the results you hope for! Experiment and be bold, knowing that some projects may not work out, but enter new partnerships with your eyes wide open.
Staff expertise
Member expertise
Mentoring skills
Access to audience/community      
Cultural interpretation or access                               
Unique content
Data & data analytics
Existing events programme
Tech skills or systems
Design thinking skills & experience
Project management skills & experience
Training skills & systems
Existing government relations
Existing communication channels & media relations
Reputation & status & track record
Brand values & recognition                     
Existing certification programmes                    
Existing products & services                            
Money – access to liquidity or cashflow
Financial management expertise    
Fundraising ability/skills
Access to Foundation funding
Bulk-buying opportunities
Cross-selling opportunities
Relationship with sponsors/partners                          
Shared risk/shared reward                               
Use of buildings/offices/equipment                           
Patents/Intellectual property
Award programs 
Legal expertise & advice
Feedback platforms
Training events & workshops
Crisis management skills & expertise
New career path opportunities
Exchange programmes
Market trends/trend analysis
Digitisation/change management experience
Access to a younger membership/community
New business models
Health & Safety expertise
GDPR expertise
Access to specific geographical or sectoral markets
History & past practices                                   
Board conservatism & inertia
Leadership turnover                                                  
Lack of negotiating experience
No shared vision/mission                                 
No shared cultural values
No articulation of value offering
Failure to define boundaries
Failure to articulate goals
Failure to articulate roles & responsibilities
Failure to adequately prioritise project
Money – eg insufficient liquidity or cashflow
Fear of time required
Insufficient time allocated
Suspicion of partner’s motives
Unwillingness to experiment
Potential loss of association’s unique culture or identity
Risk of moving away from specialisation
How will partnership be perceived by insiders/outsiders
Ego battles/power games
Existing contracts & legal constraints
Stakeholder conflicts
Fear of increased bureaucracy
(Perceived) lack of innovative capacity
Fear of “mission creep”
Geographical distance
Political environment
Economic environment
Non-profit vs for-profit clashes
Insufficient trust
Unclear project governance or management
Overambitious goals/unrealistic expectationsl
Lack of balance between partners’ capacity
Reputational risk
Technological limits/constraints
Incompatible branding
Failure to agree governance of partnership
Lack of leadership
Excessive workload
Time zones
Different languages
Differing priorities
Inability to deal with criticism
Lack of competency or capacity
Wrong timing
Lack of clarity of objectives

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