- Partnering with Nationals

Partners International
Selecting and Tracking Partnerships
with Non-Western Missionaries

Partners International takes seriously the responsibility of selecting non-Western ministries to recommend to churches and individuals in the West. We are guided by prayer and by time-tested processes that have been developed over more than 50 years. Equally important is regular tracking and follow-up with ministries with whom partnerships are already underway.

The guidelines below are the ones used in the selection process. Some of them may not apply to your situation. But anyone who is considering entering into partnership, whether large or small, should be able to learn something from these principles.

Selecting Ministries for Partnerships
When a new partnership is being considered, preliminary discussions help determine if the prospective ministry and Partners International both feel that a strong rationale exists for pursuing the opportunity further. Due to many factors, few inquiries get beyond this point.

If it is decided to move to the next step, the ministry completes an extensive questionnaire about its work and its organizational structure.  Our regional coordinator for the area then conducts an on-site evaluation. Each one of our regional coordinators is extremely knowledgeable about Christian ministries in the area of the world in which he serves. Further discussions or trips may also be needed, and the entire process often takes a year or more.

In making a decision to partner with a ministry, we study the following:

  1. Needs where the ministry is working:  The ministry should be meeting strategic needs that are crucial for the advancement of the gospel and that are compatible with the mission priorities of Partners International.
  2. History and development of the ministry:  It is generally preferable to aid an established ministry with a record of proven results than to finance someone's "vision," though valuable exceptions do exist.
  3. Doctrinal stand:  The ministry's doctrines must be compatible with Partners International's Statement of Faith. WEF Statement of Faith
  4. Board of directors (or the equivalent):  The board should be informed, involved and consider itself ultimately responsible for the work and for providing accountability for the ministry leaders.
  5. Goals:  They should be clear, measurable and achievable.
  6. Policies and procedures:  While they may be very basic, particularly  for a small ministries, they must be adequate to guide the workers and to provide a system of accountability for the organization.
  7. Personnel:  The staff must be adequate in both number and skill to accomplish the ministry's goals.
  8. Local credibility:  Those who know the ministry should be able to recommend it without reservation. There should also be a solid base of local people who believe in the ministry and are involved with it, giving of their time and finances.
  9. Past performance:  This is a good indicator of a ministry's ability to meet future commitments.
  10. Reporting ability:   There should be an eagerness to provide regular and timely reports for those who help to support the ministry, including reports of how funds were used.
  11. Cooperation with other local Christian groups:  It must be determined whether any significant tensions exist, and whether the ministry is able to work together with other groups.
  12. Legal standing:  The ministry should be legally registered (in countries where this is possible). Typically, property should be registered in the name of the ministry and not in the name of an individual.
  13. Other existing relationships (if any) with Western organizations:  If the ministry is asking for funds in the USA through means in addition to Partners International, this can result in confusion for donors and lack of credibility for the ministry. The ministry must be willing to keep us informed and coordinate with us on this matter.
  14. In addition to all of the above, it is equally important to evaluate Partners International's capability:  Can we adequately provide the help that the prospective partner is requesting from us?

Tracking of Existing Partnerships
If Partners International and a non-Western ministry agree to enter into a partnership, a working agreement is negotiated and signed. The agreement defines the responsibilities and expectations of each partner in order to achieve our common goal. The agreement is in force for a set period of time. Renewal of the agreement for another term is not assured and must be re-negotiated. Tracking the progress of the partnership in light of the expectations stated in the working agreement is accomplished through the following measures:

  1. Regular (at least annually, often more) visits are made to the ministry by the regional coordinator. Other Partners International staff may also make visits sometime during the year. Written reports are submitted after each visit.
  2. The ministry provides regular written reports (at least three times per year) that describe their activities and progress.
  3. Financial reports are required from each ministry within four months after the close of their fiscal year.
  4. Routine, general communications occur between the ministries and Partners International throughout the year. These communications provide a great deal of insight into the overall health of the partnership.
  5. Partners International often has the opportunity to interview individuals or groups that have first hand knowledge of the ministry, or to arrange visits by supporting churches and other donors who want to visit the field. These opportunities provide additional points of view that help increase understanding within the partnership.

Next: Sample Cooperation Agreement

Partners<> International is a recognized leader in partnering with indigenous Christian ministries in the non-Western world, linking resources from Christians in the West with Two-Thirds World agencies that minister to both physically and spiritually needy people.

Partnerships: Field-Based |<> Nationals |<> Church/Agency

Cooperation: Networking | Partnerships | Church<> Planting

AGP: Introduction | Adoption | Cooperation | Individual<> Involvement | Resources