Principles for Positive Partnership: Making a positive impact

David Reilly shares his thoughts on the launch of Principles for Positive Partnership, new guidance on relationships between Scottish Government and third sector grantholders.

Screenshot_2020-01-23_at_13.59.38.pngCo-production is about combining our strengths and assets to work together on an equal basis, beyond status, rank or power. It’s all about trying to equalise relationships between people in the belief that this will help achieve better outcomes together. Traditionally, in the third sector there have been few relationships as unbalanced as that between a funder and a funder holder. 

In my first job in a charity I asked if I should wear a suit when I was due to go to meet our funder – “of course” was I told, with only pained efforts not to laugh giving the game away that I was being wound up. The more serious advice I was given was to treat my funder like a rich aunt; send pictures every now and then and tell them how great everything’s going! 

But of course, it shouldn’t be that way. Funders and grant holders are people who want to make a positive impact with their different roles and resources. As with co-production, achieving that positive change is what really matters. 

Which is why we were delighted to make a small contribution to developing Principles for Positive Partnership guidance on relationships between Scottish Government & third sector grant holders. 

Our colleagues at Evaluation Support Scotland did their usual wonderful job of developing the guidance by facilitating conversations between people who work in Government where (usually a small) part of their jobs are to manage grants, and those in the third sector who receive grants to carry out work. 

What’s interesting is that the key learning, and key messages in the guidance chime so well with lessons learned from Scotland’s Co-production Network:

  • We need to build relationships of trust, that takes time. 
  • Not everything in the grant will go as planned. We will be flexible and keep the focus on learning and improvement.
  • Maintaining good productive relationships requires a professional, open and honest approach.

The guidance comes at a time where there is a wider effort to ‘shift the balance of power’ toward more ‘participatory grantmaking’; with a suite of learning resources recently made available here.

Scottish Co-production Network are planning a learning event with grantmaking partners to continue mapping out the journey to where greater participation in grantmaking might lead – shameless plug to sign up to receive in invite here.

We share a lodestar with Principles for Positive Partnership when it writes:

‘Ultimately, remember both of us - grant managers and grantholders - want to achieve positive outcomes for the people of Scotland.’