Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How we find new Goal partners

You've been hearing lots of exciting news about Goal launching in new countries - we are launching next month in Jordan and looking to sign on partners in 1-2 more countries before the end of the year. But perhaps you wondered how we do this and what we look for - let's demystify that process for you!

Step 1: Identifying potential partners
The first step to launching Goal in a new country is determining who is working there that could be a potential partner. To do this we hit the phones and scour the web, looking for organisations running programmes that are complementary to Goal - for example, our Nigeria partner, the Youth Empowerment Foundation, has a long history of working with boys and girls on HIV and reproductive health education, but hadn't ever run a sport and life skills programme directly for girls.

We reach out to our networks - everyone, everywhere! - looking for organisations big and small that might fit our basic criteria. They should:
  • Already be working in urban areas in a Standard Chartered market
  • Include adolescent girls (approximately ages 15-19) in its existing programming (however programming does not need to be exclusively focused on adolescent girls)
  • Reach a large number individuals with existing programming and have capacity for growth
  • Maintain very strong, longstanding relationships with local communities and community based organisations
  • Be, at its core, committed to the empowerment of women
  • Have working relationships across sectors
  • Be financially stable with diverse revenue streams
  • Be considered a leader amongst its peers and in its fields
We don't often fund start up organisations, although some of them are outstanding. Sustainability is important to us and we want to make sure that we don't build something from scratch that can't continue beyond our involvement.

In the past, we've gotten help from friends in the Nike Foundation, EMPower, Beyond Sport, and others who know about great people and projects working to empower girls. Even Twitter and yes, people who read our blog, have thrown us some viable prospects.

Step 2: Figuring out how to make Goal work
Now we have a big list of names so we start the long process of introducing ourselves - over and over again! We tell people who we are and what we do, share our materials and criteria. And we ask the most important questions of potential partners: Are you interested in doing this? Does this dovetail with plans you already have for expansion or programming? Does this complement your existing work? Will this benefit you?

Lots of fuss is made about "mutually beneficial" partnerships, with good reason. We never want to force Goal on a partner; we like it when they tell us this was just the kind of thing they were waiting for. There have been amazing organisations who have told us they love the programme but that it doesn't fit with their existing plans or priorities. And we love that kind of candor and honesty.

We ask potential partners to come to us with a brief concept paper - just a few pages - that talks about how they would envision building Goal into their programming, who they could reach and where, and how they could use the Bank's assets to support it - not just funds,  but maybe our staff, or our banking services. At this stage we're open for considering any and all ideas.

Step 3: Discussing a Goal launch with the business
Goal is a partnership and our NGO partners are half of that - the other half though is our business in the countries we want to roll out. Different to a straightforward NGO programme, or a "donor/recipient" relationship, our global businesses need to feel that Goal can help them achieve their objectives, whether they be engaging more staff, reaching an underserved community or sometimes building the brand in a particular market. We're not shy about that fact that Goal has to deliver social AND business impact - so we work closely with our amazing teams in corporate affairs, wholesale and consumer banking, and the CEOs offices in a potential Goal market to figure out their feedback, needs, and requests.

We introduce our country offices to our NGO partners and let them brainstorm ideas about events, employee volunteering, and ways to work closely together. Some really exciting stuff comes out!

Step 4: Reviewing proposals and signing on partners
NOW! We've got business support, a solid idea - then we make it formal. We have a rigorous due diligence process and review lots of different materials: annual reports, audited financials, board member and leadership biographies, references. We ask lots of questions and get concrete timetables, reach numbers, plans for sustainability and communications. And of course budgets - Goal prides itself on being efficient, and we already have great models in India, Nigeria and soon Jordan. So we share those best practices with countries, and learn from them how market differences effect costs. It's an arduous and time consuming process but it's worth it for the result - a new Goal partner!

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