Ending Your Partnership Sooner than Planned

A sad reality in the community-business partnership process is that a small number of partnerships will not work out.

If you and your community group or business partner find yourselves with an overwhelming number of problems which you have unsuccessfully tried to resolve, then the only option left may be to end your partnership prematurely.

There are a few steps you and your community or business partner should try to work through when ending your partnership prematurely:
  • Enact your exit strategy. You and your community or business partner should have finalised and developed an exit strategy when you were first developing your partnership.
    • Such an exit strategy is designed for a situation like this, so it is important both groups stick to it as they work to end their partnership.
    • The exit strategy may have not only specified grounds or occurrences that would result in an end to the partnership, but could cover other issues such as:
      • How quickly the partnership would be wound up.
      • The steps to be taken to end the partnership.
      • What happens to any goods, services or resources donated
      • What happens to projects, awards or teams that have been sponsored or used as a collection point
      • How to work through ending a partnership based on the sharing or donation of premises, space and infrastructure, if there is any.
  • Deal with leftovers. If there are any leftover or unallocated funds, resources or goods – or information relating to the partnership - discuss with your partner what should happen to them.
    • Try to remain fair and reasonable in your approach. 
    • Hopefully, the issue of leftovers is also covered in your exit strategy.
  • Communicate your decision to end the partnership. Your decision could need to be communicated to a number of parties:
    • Your members.
    • Members of your partner's group or staff of your business partner.
    • Other stakeholders and interest groups.
    • Local authorities.
    • The media.
  • Try to avoid bad feelings. In some circumstances this may be difficult – for example, issues involving illegal activities or breaches of confidence or trust - but do your best to work through the issue at hand, rather than the personalities involved.
  • Don't get gun-shy on partnerships. 
    • The good feelings for shared benefits between yourself, your partner and the community you had when you embarked on your community business partnership were legitimately held.
    • Any bad experiences or failed partnerships do not mean those initial attitudes towards community business partnerships were wrong, and shouldn't put you off giving partnerships another shot in the future. Refer to the Don't Opt Out Help Sheet, available on the Our Community website.