How to find partners and work with them?
About Lesson

Finding the right partner is key when applying for European funding. You need a partner who is willing to put in the same amount of effort and work as you, with whom you can communicate clearly and directly, and who shares your vision and project approach. You may have worked in the same field or complement your work with expertise in another sector, the point is that the project is the result of collaboration. The assessor may award 30 out of 100 points for the quality of project management, which takes into account the quality of cooperation and communication between the participating organisations and with other stakeholders. The selection of the partner organisation should therefore be given the same attention as the other requirements.

A.    Where to find partners?

Based on our experience of working with a wide range of international partners from Europe, Asia and Africa, we first recommend that you work with organisations and people you can rely on and have worked with before. Common ground built on previous experience gives stability to the collaboration and confidence that everyone will be actively involved in the phases of the project. This can save you a lot of aggravation, so it’s worth bearing this in mind!

If you have established personal relationships with other transnational organisations, you can feel comfortable asking them to cooperate, but if not, don’t panic. There are many organisations that would like to be involved in organising an Erasmus+ project.

This stage raises a very important question: how do we find partners if we are new to the programme? This can be approached in several ways. An online tool called OTLAS (Online Tools for Learning and Training) was created to help organisations find partners for international projects through SALTO (Support for Advance Learning and Training Opportunities). The database contains a list of organisations and can be searched by country or by area of interest. While this tool is a good way to find new partners, the downside is that you won’t have the opportunity to meet them in person before you start working with them.

In our experience, the most reliable way to find partners is to participate in partnership-building activities or mobility projects for young professionals. These activities are part of the youth worker mobility programmes and typically take the form of a seminar, where up to 20 organisations can gather in one room. These events usually last between five and seven days and focus on a specific topic relevant to the participating organisations. For a number of reasons, this is one of the best ways to find new partners:

  • First, you can meet people face-to-face and learn more about their work;

 

  • During the partnership-building activity, you can start discussing the concept of the future project and form a consortium of partners, leaving you plenty of time to prepare the project;

 

  • Furthermore, facilitators and trainers will support you in writing your project proposal and you can get feedback on your project idea from both the organisers and other

The third advantage is that you don’t have to worry about negotiating with your partners later, as you can build up your working relationships immediately.

You can find such an event here:

SALTO-YOUTH – European training calendar

National Agencies | Erasmus+

Eurodesk Opportunity Finder

Facebook groups can also be useful. This alternative is very often used not only to find partners but also to gather participants and share project results as part of the dissemination plan. Some of these groups are:

Erasmus+ projects and partners Search | Facebook

Erasmus+ Partner Search (the original !) | Facebook

Erasmus+ Youth Exchanges | Facebook

Erasmus+ 2021 – 2027 – Mobility opportunities for all

Finally, you can rely on your own network and send an email or invite them to a meeting to recommend a suitable partner. Word of mouth is very often the most effective and reliable method!

Idea: Write a list of potential partners and send them a message with your idea for the project and an invitation to partner!

  1. How to work with your partner?

 Once you have found the right partners, contacted them and agreed to work together, the creative process can begin.

It is important, especially if you are talking about a small-scale partnership, to remember to formalise the partnership with a contract that gives clear guidelines on the contribution and responsibilities of each organisation, the management, monitoring, reporting and follow-up roles for the project, as well as the budget allocation and outline timeline. It should also set out principles such as equal responsibility, country and gender balance, transparency, non-discrimination and quality standards. The agreement should also cover procedures for decision-making, withdrawal and other cases where things do not go according to plan. As the applicant, you will be responsible for allocating the money between partners, so you can include a clause to justify withholding the transfer if the work is not completed on time or is of poor quality.

For short-term mobility, a mandate signed by your partner at the time of application is sufficient, but it is important to have an agreement on your partnership, agreeing on points such as:

  • How many preparatory meetings will you hold;
  • Who recruits the participants;
  • Who buys tickets for them (your partner or the participants);
  • How travel expenses are reimbursed (if you send money to your partner or directly to participants);
  • How partners will support participants in follow-up

As the applicant, you are likely to be the consortium coordinator, leading the meetings, monitoring the progress of the work and ensuring that the project vision remains coherent and constant at all stages. Monitoring and evaluation will probably be part of the same package. As the leader, you will need to check that evidence is being gathered during the activities, which may be statistics, attendance sheets, reports produced by facilitators or by the participants themselves, etc. Maintaining continuous dissemination throughout the phases is also an expectation of the European Union, so the coordinator will need to confirm this in the partnership and check that the level of attendance is appropriate. This may seem difficult now, but if you choose the right partner, it will be natural and the process will go smoothly, with the implementation phase rewarding the work done. So keep up the enthusiasm and don’t get discouraged!

 

In general, each partner is individually responsible for the local tasks and their distribution among its own staff. These tasks can include, for example, the selection of participants and facilitators, their linguistic/intercultural/learning and task-related training, and liaising with external service providers and local staff. Each local activity should be reported and sent to the coordinator, who can organise them for mid-term and final evaluation.

The recommended platforms for communication and cooperation with them are different. The basics, such

as email, phone calls or video calls, are obvious. In addition, our experience has shown that it is beneficial to create a shared Google Drive folder where partners can upload and browse documents, agreements, videos, photos, graphics or other material. Many organisations prefer to use Trello as it is a very user-friendly website with tables and lists that make it easy to monitor workflows and progress towards milestones. Alternatively, many organisations use Slack, or if you’re a Whatsapp user you can create a project channel there that works in a similar way to Slack.

As regards face-to-face meetings, preparatory visits are covered in youth exchanges and youth worker mobility, if the partners consider it useful. During these visits, the partnership representatives can strengthen their contacts while exploring the area where the mobility will take place, checking accommodation, transport routes, the state of infrastructure and nearby services that can help to implement the activities.

Another reason why we recommend a preparatory visit for a youth exchange is that it provides an opportunity to involve young people who may later become participants. They can be involved in the programme design and preparation process. This can be very useful as it can support young people to actively participate in the programme and to implement their own initiatives.

Idea: What is important to you in a partnership? What is important to you in a partnership? Make a list for yourself, and once you have a partnership, don’t forget to share it with your partners and ask them for one too 😉