International Expansion Blog

Nonprofits: Five Steps to a Successful Partnership Abroad

John Bostwick - Higher Education Technical Writer - HSPBy John Bostwick,Technical Writer, Higher Education and Nonprofits

Is your nonprofit institution planning to partner with another institution abroad? There are good reasons for doing so. Partnering (sometimes called collaborating) with a university, research foundation, national or local government, or other organization can provide cultural and financial benefits, ease administrative burdens and strengthen your capacity to conduct research.

But partnerships may come with risks. For example, a partner may not have the organizational standards or regulatory standing you had assumed, and that could result in fines and reputational damage for your institution.

To help you avoid some of the common risks associated with collaborating, we’ve compiled the following Five Steps to a Successful Partnership Abroad. Under each step, we’ve listed a few examples of questions your college, university or other nonprofit institution should ask before formally entering into an international partnership.

Step 1: Determine the Criteria You’ll Use to Evaluate the Potential Partner

Does the partner have a good regional and international reputation?

  • Does the partner have adequate legal standing in the host country and are they compliant with local laws (including data-protection laws) and moral standards?
  • Does the partner have acceptable hiring, safety, and financial controls in place?

Step 2: Consider Your Risks

Will your institution have employer obligations or a permanent establishment in the host country despite the partnership?

  • Will the partnership allow your institution to maintain control over research and/or curriculum decisions?
  • Will your partner be able to meet US federal compliance standards such as A-133, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Clery Act, and OFAC?
  • Will you be able to control your partner’s use of your name and logo?

Step 3: Understand Your Obligations

What are your and your partner’s employer tax and statutory filing obligations?

  • How many administrators and, if applicable, faculty members or researchers will be required to support the partnership, and who will be responsible for hiring and paying them?
  • Is there a graceful means of terminating the partnership agreement if it does not meet your expectations?

Step 4: Recognize the Possible Effects of Cultural Differences

Are the safety standards of the host country—including security and building safety codes—acceptable to your institution and up to US standards?

  • Are host-country attitudes towards women and/or host-country religious and ethnic minorities compatible with your institution’s practices and values?
  • Will your organization’s staff be able to adequately support the program from the host country given time-zone differences?

Step 5: Determine Metrics for Evaluating the Partnership

What are the criteria for evaluating the success of the partnership?

  • What are the effects of the partnership on research capacity, academic objectives, or other important criteria?
  • What new projects or programs have resulted from the partnership, and, if applicable, how has student interest increased or decreased?

Radius specializes in assisting universities and other nonprofit institutions with establishing successful partnerships, including minimizing financial and reputational risks. Find out how we can help.