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Civil society partnerships

Framework for partnerships

© © UNICEF/NYHQ2011-0355/Olivier Asselin
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake (Centre, in blue cap) chats with a staff member from the NGO Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), a UNICEF partner, during a UNICEF-supported distribution at a water point in Tulia Village in North Kivu Province, Democratic Republlic of Congo

What is a partnership and when is it used?

The UNICEF-CSO partnership framework is flexible, so the specific form of the partnership – both formal and informal – can change over time as dictated by evolving circumstances.  UNICEF collaboration with CSOs takes many different forms, yet all aim to achieve results for children based on the UNICEF strategic priorities.

When there is a comparative advantage for UNICEF and a CSO to jointly deliver results for children, partnership is a valuable option. CSOs partnering with UNICEF are expected to contribute its organizational expertise and staff/resources to achieve jointly defined results. Partnerships between UNICEF and CSOs have the following characteristics:

  • They can be formal or informal agreements;
  • They involve joint ownership and shared risks, responsibilities and benefits;
  • They may or may not involve the transfer of financial resources;
  • They are guided by the UNICEF Principles of Partnership;
  • They are formed at country level (primarily), as well as at global level;
  • They can focus on both development and humanitarian action contexts;
  • They cover diverse joint activities: advocacy, programming, service delivery, awareness-raising, knowledge-sharing, emergency response, research, prevention, capacity development and fundraising.
  • They are consultative and jointly owned. Both parties agree on the objectives and results to be achieved, including the implementation strategies and resources each partner will contribute.

Formal partnership tools and agreements

Formal partnerships that do not require the transfer of resources from UNICEF are regulated by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU is used to formalize agreements between UNICEF and one or more CSO partner(s) to pursue common objectives at the global, regional or country level, with each party contributing its own resources. MoUs are typically used to define strategic alliances and declare agreement on intent, areas of common interest, spheres of cooperation and operational engagement.

Formal partnerships which entail a transfer of resources from UNICEF are regulated by:

  • A Programme Cooperation Agreement (PCA). A PCA is the legal (umbrella) agreement used to establish the partnership framework with a CSO, defining the rights and obligations of the parties and the partnership’s general terms and conditions. A PCA is used when there is a cumulative transfer of UNICEF resources of more than $50,000 to the CSO.
  • A Small Scale Funding Agreement (SSFA). An SSFA is the legal agreement that defines the expected results, related resource requirements, and the rights and obligations of UNICEF and the partnering CSO; it is used when the transfer of UNICEF resources does not exceed $50,000 within a twelve-month period. In humanitarian contexts, the SSFA can also be used to expedite the transfer of up to three months of programme supplies.

Informal partnerships

Informal partnerships are oriented towards achieving results for children and are used when collaboration does not require a formal agreement. An informal partnership might be used, for example, when organizations are working together to identify child rights issues to address at the country level, performing joint advocacy or sharing knowledge.

Click here for a complete list and description of the guiding principles of CSO partnerships.




Partnership Agreements

 For more information on partnership agreements, please click here.

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