Partnerships can be useful for a lot of different reasons. Maybe you need policy support or data/graphics for some work you’re doing, and another group has the experts who can help you. Maybe you’re having a rally and you want to be sure that lots of people will show up. Maybe you are conscious of the demographics of your own group, and you want to work on issues where other people’s voices should be front and center.
Some of the most common reasons for partnering include:
- Policy support
- Increasing grassroots pressure
- Aligning different groups’ asks
- Aligning different constituencies
- Having access to more information or perspectives
But partnerships are also about mutual benefit and mutual respect between two organizations. At their core, partnerships are about relationships—and long term partnerships require building trust in the same way that relationships do.
How do you find potential partners?
Finding good potential partners is an art, not a science. That said, there are a number of steps you may wish to take:
- Be explicit with yourself about why you want to find partners. A partnership with a wonderful policy think tank may not be that helpful if what you really need is someone who can turn out members to a town hall.
- Identify leads:
- Ask around: who are the most powerful groups in your area? Who mobilizes large numbers of voters during elections? Who do your Senators and Representatives feel most accountable to? These are folks you want to have good relationships with.
- If you’re partnering on a specific issue, consider working with a group made up of people who are directly impacted. You may also want to see if there are “maps” online of groups that work on a particular issue or organize a particular constituency (see, for example, this list of immigration advocacy campaigns).
- Read the newspaper. Which groups are cited as the experts on particular topics? Look at other political events that are happening—rallies, marches, etc. Who is sponsoring them, and are they groups you would want to work with?
- Are there local affiliates of large national organizations or movements that you might want to reach out to? For example, Black Lives Matter groups, union locals (for example, SEIU locals), Sierra Club chapters, NAACP chapters, United We Dream groups, Center for Popular Democracy groups, PICO groups, National Domestic Workers Alliance groups.
- What local groups get involved in political work? Don’t underestimate the value of local appeal in political action!
- If you know what kind of partner you need but want help identifying the right group, you can feel free to contact the partnerships team at the national Indivisible office, at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to advise where we can, though keep in mind that our knowledge of local partners will be limited.
- Don't forget the importance of centering the groups who are most affected by Trump's agenda in all of the work you do.
- Reach out to talk to someone at the group(s) you identify, in person if possible. Remember that political activity is fundamentally about relationships. If you have coffee with people and get to know them as individuals, it will be easier to work together.