We believe that working with and through partner organisations in developing countries – rather than directly implementing projects ourselves – is more likely to achieve wide-scale, deep, inclusive, lasting change in the lives of poor and marginalised people.
Partnership has assumed even greater prominence with our current strategy, Partnership for Change (2012-2017).
At the heart of our strategy, is the goal of achieving ‘just power relations’ and we believe that working through partnerships based on respect, trust, shared responsibility, mutual accountability, and joint action towards shared goals, is essential to shift power relations in favour of the poor.
We seek not to gain power over others, but rather seek power with others to achieve these changes in the lives of poor and marginalised people. By exchanging and sharing resources, knowledge, and learning, we draw on strengths and support the limitations of each party.
For example, local partners understand the communities in which they work and are best placed to work with them, while we bring technical expertise and access to funding.
We work closely with other ACT Alliance members to implement joint programmes, saving overhead costs and ensuring money reaches the people who need it most.
Adapting to change
Our external environment is changing rapidly. To tackle the root causes of poverty we need the involvement of actors from all sectors. This emphasises the need for working in partnership even more.
We are responding to this by evolving our partnership approach. This is reflected in who we work with and how. In addition to our traditional partners (churches and faith-based organisations, non-governmental organisations and community based organisations) we are now working with a range of more diverse partners, including the private sector, governments, meteorological offices and research institutions.
Results and highlights
A 2013 Keystone partner survey of international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) showed that Christian Aid performed better than the average from a cohort of 61 other INGOs in terms of financial support, shared advocacy, capacity building in participatory approaches, and the respectful way in which Christian Aid interacts with partners.
We were challenged to improve our performance in the way that we support partners to access other resources of funding, and in our capacity-building interventions.
As an organisation, we are acquiring a deeper understanding and creating an evidence base of where the partnership approach adds value to the impact of our work.
We commissioned external qualitative research, Value for People, in 2015 to understand how our partnership approach adds value and how it has evolved in the context of a changing external environment.
The study was conducted in Kenya, Colombia, and the Middle East and highlighted our key strength of adapting our role to local context. Our partnership approach adds value in at least five distinct areas:
- We empower civil society.
- We broker multi-stakeholder coalitions.
- We leverage resources.
- We enhance advocacy.
- We offer protection to partners in insecure environments.
A validation exercise with other country programmes found that sharing knowledge, good practice and innovation across global programmes was an additional value.
- Working in partnership: delivering value for people
This paper summarises the findings of external research into how Christian Aid’s partnership approach adds value.
- Download the full version of the external report here.