Setting and Monitoring Direction

5.B Leave or End a Collaboration

Partners may find themselves unable or unwilling to continue in a collaboration due to a shift in organizational priorities, significant funding cuts, and/or staffing changes. Collaborations themselves inevitably come to an end when outcomes are achieved, key partners withdraw, or funding ends. Thinking ahead about the appropriate steps to take when leaving or ending a collaboration will ensure that closure is positive and productive for everyone.

What is the right way for our organization to leave a collaboration?
Start by confirming with your own leadership that it’s timely and appropriate for the organization to withdraw from the collaboration and be clear about the rationale. Establish a clear plan that outlines steps to be taken and timelines. Review the procedures outlined in your collaboration agreement that describe the process for notification and separation and make sure your organization complies with them. Then communicate the message to partners in an honest and transparent way.
How can we effectively bring closure to our collaboration?
The ending of a collaboration should be intentional with clearly understood rationales and processes, not just a slow drifting away of partners as commitments wain. Celebrate what has been accomplished, identify lessons learned and clearly communicate the decision to key stakeholders. Take the time to end things on a positive note since new collaboration opportunities often emerge out of pre-existing relationships.
Bringing a Positive End to a Collaboration
A group of community organizers interested in engaging youth were convened by a leading funder to collaborate, learn together and share effective practice. Over several years a lot of good work was accomplished. When the funder’s investment came to an end, the collaboration naturally wound down, after alternate funding and organizing possibilities were considered and then rejected by the partners. Though the formal collaboration was not sustained the strong relationships and the knowledge partners gained continued to pay dividends.