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Civil society partnerships

Understand values, structures and leadership


Understanding leadership and management structures, as well as identifying the focal persons who have the authority to enter into collaboration and move the work forward, is key to any partnership.

Structures and systems

Before partnering, it is important to consider: 

  • What are the predominant faith traditions (and geographical focus, if applicable)? It is important to remember that this may include traditional or animistic communities that may lack visible or formalized structures to the external eye.
  • What are their basic organizational structures and systems (e.g., houses of worship, formal and informal ceremonies and celebrations)? Are there government entities responsible for religious issues (e.g., Ministry of Religious Affairs, Ministry of Culture)? 
  • What dynamics exist between religious communities or within a particular community that may be characterized by other factors (i.e., ethnic, economic, political) that would potentially affect collaborative programming? 
  • What existing services and/or advocacy initiatives are religious actors undertaking in relation to children’s rights and do they adhere to national guidelines and standards, or what mechanisms within the religious tradition exist to provide assistance to particularly vulnerable members of their community, such as zakat in Muslim communities and church funds from donations or tithing?
  • What relevant technical experience or skills do religious actors have (including knowledge of systematic codes of good practice and appropriate/ethical conduct regarding children)?
  • What financial resources do the religious structures have for carrying out the intended activities? If they need additional financial support, do they have the organizational capacities to handle financial inputs and the accompanying reporting requirements?
  • What, if any, involvement and influence do religious communities have in local, national or regional social and political governance, especially in addressing the needs of the most marginalized children and families? Is this influence the result of established structures or due to individual leaders with particular charisma or influence?



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