Partnerships are not just technical relationships set up to deliver a project. By joining in partnership, we act in solidarity with our partners and people living in poverty to bring about transformational change. And we ourselves are transformed in this process.
Our partnership policy sets out core partnership principles, which guide our approach to partnership in all our areas of work. We ground partnership in these principles, rather than partnership being an organisational set-up for ‘implementing’.
These principles are rooted in Christian Aid’s Global Strategy, Standing Together. Through our 3Ps (poverty, power and prophetic voice) framework we commit to ‘eradicating extreme poverty, dismantling its root causes across the world, and enabling the voice and agency of the poor and marginalised to be fully realised’. We can only achieve this together with others.
Our partnership policy applies across Christian Aid to our varied organisational relationships (funded and non-funded) within our country programmes, globally and in the UK/Ireland. For us, partnership refers to all working relationships that are aiming to be mutually transformational, and these are guided by a set of shared principles.
In line with our values of dignity, justice and equality, Christian Aid commits to and strives towards achieving these partnership principles as we stand together with our partners and communities:
- Partnership is mutual: based on shared values, goals and mutual trust
- Partnership leads to collective action
- Partnership is transformational
- Partnership is dynamic
- Partnership enhances social capital and capacity, and enables learning for all involved
- Partnership builds on the legitimacy of all parties involved
- Partnership respects and expands the space and voice of others
(For more details on each principle, see the partnership policy, p.6)
We know that we cannot end poverty through our direct actions alone. Our partnerships aim to contribute to transformational change for those who are marginalised and living in extreme poverty and those affected by humanitarian emergencies. They unleash and enhance the agency and power of people, and lead to positive change for both Christian Aid and our partners.
We connect into wider movements for collective action to amplify voices and achieve more impact jointly. We see our diverse partnerships as interconnected and complementing each other so that together our different skills, knowledge and strengths allow us to achieve more to shift power and deliver change.
Local ownership is essential to confront power imbalances and shift power to the global South and closer to communities; we recognise the complementary roles that local and international actors play.
Our choice for partner-based approaches and mutual partnerships is rooted in our relational theology, which sets out a vision of how we are inter-related with others. ‘Living out’ our relational theology means we join with others to restore our broken world. We re-envision a healed world: our relational theology bears witness to a world that can be restored and transformed. This guides our partnerships approach.
Partnerships in a changing world
The partnership principles are applied in varying ways in different types of partnership. We recognise the need for context-specific flexibility without reducing our commitment to our core principles towards transformative mutual partnerships.
Localisation is prominent in recent humanitarian commitments which Christian Aid has signed up to. This builds on our long-standing way of working across all our work – humanitarian, development and advocacy. For us, this approach is not only about efficiency, but it is also about strengthening civil society as a representation of society itself. This is also crucial in creating changes in power dynamics and shifting power towards the global South. Christian Aid is actively working to further decolonise our programming and practice. We are working towards being an anti-racist organisation in our internal culture and making these values part of our partnership approach.
How working in partnership benefits everyone
We could achieve very little without our partners. Our partners bring a deep knowledge of local context, specialist expertise and relationships with power holders. This allows us to co-create actions, opportunities and priorities and help Christian Aid root our vision for change in practical contexts and lived realities. Our local partners are close to the communities they serve. This has been particularly highlighted during the global Covid-19 pandemic. Some are faith actors with access to large faith communities and influential faith leaders, which can help connect communities in the global South and global North.
Christian Aid in turn adds value to partner efforts by connecting people, communities and partners (locally and globally), supporting efforts to strengthen civil society, and brokering spaces. Partners have also highlighted our value in leveraging resources, enhancing advocacy, and in certain conflict contexts in helping protect partners. This is accompanied by ongoing efforts to share knowledge, good practice and expertise (including facilitating south-south learning exchanges and valuing diverse forms of knowledge and expertise), and to enable innovation.
Our partnerships connect three spheres including (i) community-based and national partners close to people living in poverty in the global South, (ii) advocacy partners at multiple power levels including with global reach, and (iii) faith actors and faith movements, all of which are complemented by and linked with other partnerships across all of Christian Aid’s work.