One question we often get regarding NOW is: How do you actually reach those unlikely participants? For us it was always clear that to reach the young people we could not reach alone, we would need partners. But partners are important for us not only because of that!
Collaboration is what makes movements, organizations and teams successful and impactful today. Yet, it takes a lot of effort and time. While we were getting more and more passionate about NOW in our meetings, online calls, email exchanges and face to face work groups, there was always this idea of starting partnerships at the back of our minds. We knew that our idea could be great, but it could be much greater if we collaborate with like-minded organizations and movements. There are amazing people out there who have already been working, struggling, fighting so hard for equality, accessibility, diversity, love, trust, nonviolence, respect and dialogue. We have a lot to learn from and share with them.
Collaboration has been key in the DNA of NOW since it was first conceived. And it’s totally paying out: As our list of partners grows, we become more and more thankful for all the support they are giving us: from testing our application form to check if it’s also accessible to people with visual impairment, to supporting our crowdfunding campaign and other fundraising efforts, to translating our marketing materials into their local languages.
Bringing truly diverse organizations and working together is not easy though. We soon learned that despite the interest in our program, being featured with organizations that do totally different work can be challenging for some. Luckily, together with our partners we found a solution. We drafted our Shared Values of Collaboration that you can now find on our website. This is what we agreed on with our partners:
“Diversity is at the core of NOW. We understand diversity as the inclusion of different identities, values, interests, worldviews, passions and causes. To ensure diversity in our program and our participants, NOW is working together with a wide range of partner organizations – from environmental activists to empowerment initiatives for marginalized youth and LGBT support groups to religious communities. This also, quite naturally, implies that their values as well as their views on certain topics can vary greatly – that’s what makes a great learning environment possible.
However, all partners displayed share a common understanding of the following core values:
- A clear endorsement of and commitment to human rights as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
- Rejection of any form of physical or psychological violence;
- Openness to dialogue;
- Respect towards any differences – as long as they do not lead to infringement of the above principles.
Beyond these principles, the values and opinions of our partners may differ. Furthermore, being a partner organization of NOW does not necessarily imply actively supporting other partner organizations’ causes or practices, but it certainly implies respecting differences.
NOW shares with its partners our commitment to diversity, social change, and the belief that if we want to go far, we’d better go together.”
At NOW, we are proposing open, transparent, respectful, solidary and mutually constructive partnerships. It is amazing to see how that is reflected by how other organizations meet us. We are also truly amazed by the supportive and open attitudes we have received from organizations. We hope to be able to provide mutual learning opportunities for each one of them.
In short, partnerships for us are not about placing our logo in their websites and vice-versa or losing the spirit and passion of our works at the business meetings. For us, partnerships are about building up, defining and sharing values together, learning and being critical to each other, while also supporting each other and becoming members of a growing community. Does your organization have a similar view? We’d be happy to hear from you!