Steps of Developing a

Cooperation Strategy


Steps of Developing a Cooperation Strategy

“Expressions in Dialogue” is a Strategic Partnership that brought together organisations from 7 different countries in order to develop innovative practices on refugee inclusion through human rights education and Living Library methodologies. Development of such practices necessitated a cooperation strategy for the network.

The experience through this KA2 project enabled us to structure a cooperation strategy. This chapter details the steps of developing a cooperation strategy which is hereby based on four main steps: self-analysis, mapping stakeholders, managing resources and future planning.


Steps of Developing a
Cooperation Strategy

Points to Focus on while Establishing Strategic Partnership on Local Level

Points to Focus on while Establishing Strategic Partnership on International Level


“Expressions in Dialogue” is a Strategic Partnership of organisations addressing the migration phenomenon through diverse realities in Europe to create innovative youth work tools for social inclusion. The project proposes to work for, with and by youth migrants and refugees together with youth workers from diverse communities around Europe to develop innovative practices on refugee inclusion through human rights education and Living Library methodologies. A main aspect of this project has been forming a developing a cooperation strategy for the network that would empower young refugees to contribute to the process as main actors.

The cooperation strategy that was established and performed within “Expressions in Dialogue” and within various collaborations effectuated by Voices of Young Refugees (VYRE) highlighted some important points that indicate main steps to develop a cooperation strategy.

VYRE is an international network created by, with and for young refugees. As a strong grass-root network, in which members can share experience and raise common concerns, acquire new skills and strengthen their capacities. VYRE aims to contribute to a Europe with greater knowledge of the reasons for being a refugee and with greater capacity for building social cohesion with intercultural learning as a base. Within the frame of this goal VYRE has been a partner in this KA2 projects. Through the experience gained within “Expressions in Dialogue” we have developed a guideline on how to develop a cooperation strategy which supports the empowerment of young migrants/refugees.


Steps of Developing a Cooperation Strategy

First Step: Self-analysis

The first step would be identifying the internal needs of forming a cooperation with other entities. There should be a clear understanding within the organisation about the need for the cooperation. The organisation should list the reasons to establish a collaboration with other entities and from these reasons a list of needs for a collaboration should be formed.

These questions should be asked during the first stage:

  • How can a co-operation bring added value?
  • How can this co-operation empower the role of young refugees within the organisation?

Second step: Mapping stakeholders

After clarifying the needs and expected outcomes from a co-operation the organisation should map the possible stakeholders that would be possible to form a cooperation.

The questions to ask:

  •  With whom could we partner with to have a stronger voice and impact?
  • How can this strategic cooperation enforce self-representation of young people with refugee and migrant backgrounds?
  • Do we share common values and approaches with potential partners?The organisation should enlist the organisations to establish a cooperation and designate a point of contact to manage the reaching out process to those organisations. It is important that one person is appointed as the point of contact and manage the communication process to establish an effective process of developing a cooperation.

    After reaching out to possible partners an agreement on expected outcomes from a cooperation should be highlighted. Each possible partner should enlist needs and capabilities of their own and then decide about the needs and capabilities of the cooperation.

    ○ When focusing on the empowerment of young migrant/refugees the cooperation should assure:

  • Creating safe spaces: The cooperation should assure an atmosphere where young refugees feel comfortable and welcomed. In order to assure this there should be a clear codes on how to address discrimination.
  • Promoting a sense of belonging, self-realisation: the cooperation should support the self-realization of young refugees. Self realization is aimed at self confidence, self actualization, self reliance, independence, free and responsible involvement of young refugees who are capable of contributing meaningfully to the development of cooperation.
  • Developing competences: The cooperation should allow an atmosphere where they can develop their competences. The cooperation is an opportunity for young refugees to improve their knowledge on their rights and he challenges preventing their access to rights. The cooperations might also be regarded as valuable opportunities where young refugees develop competences to advocate for better access to their rights.

Third step: Establishing a structured plan on how to use the resources

The partners within the cooperation should have a structured discussion on how can each partner can support or harm the collective action and should decide about the group who will be responsible for managing the resources of the cooperation. The accountability method should be also decided within the partners.

Fourth step: What future needs will require a strategic partnership?

Enlisting possible needs that the strategic partnership would require. Deciding about the mechanism on how to decide if the partnership needs any additional new partners and how to include new partners when necessary. Furthermore, enlisting resources needed to sustain the partnership in the long term and Deciding on how to inform the success and make it visible and how to disseminate the work of the partnership.

Points to Focus on while Establishing Strategic Partnership on Local Level

Needs assessment

  • The needs assessment should be done with the participation of youth with migrant backgrounds. These young people should be also involved in the discussions on “why a strategic cooperation is needed for the organisation and for the other stakeholders”
  •  The organisation should clearly enlist the expected outputs from a strategic partnership and the possible benefit that the partners would gain.
  • The organisation should also clearly indicate how the strategic cooperation would support the self-representation and self-realisation of young people with refugee and migrant backgrounds

Questions to Ask

The organisation should answer these questions while developing the strategic partnership:

  • Does this cooperation help to pool local resources,
  • Does this cooperation help to pool experiences and skills,
  • Does this cooperation help to engage a wider public in decision making and development planning,
  • Does this cooperation help enhancing local capacity to act,
  • Does this cooperation help to provide a mechanism for identifying and dealing with conflicts? 

Inclusive Mapping of Stakeholders

The organisation should do an inclusive mapping of stakeholders. Within this frame the word inclusive underlines the fact that not a single organisation should dominate the partnership and partners should share roles and responsibilities.

○ While mapping the stakeholders the template below can be used:

Stakeholder Name

Which sector (Public/Private/Civi lSociety/Individual)

Motivation/Expect ation of the Stakeholder

Contribution of the Stakeholder

In order to assure that all the partners have certain roles and responsibilities within the strategic partnership certain committees and working groups can be formed in order to also better address the needs.

Points to Focus on while Establishing Strategic Partnership on International Level

Membership and Agreement

Strategic partnerships on international level are organised as networks, and when members of the network change, the networks can change. This variable can be reduced by formal contractual co-operation agreements, so that organisations and institutions are committed as bodies rather than as individuals.

Another important point to clarify is the mechanism regarding the admission of new partners to the partnership. If partnerships exist for a long period and become well established within their region, then at some point new partners will almost inevitably join. New tasks may come onto the agenda that call for the involvement of additional key actors. Hence, admission mechanisms have to be in place for these kinds of cases.

Running a partnership can be regarded as a very sensitive operation requiring individuals who can really understand and work with different organisations and their requests. As the main task of partnerships is to find ways in which organisations – with their different tasks, responsibilities and approaches – can co-operate in dynamic societies, it is necessary to adapt methods and ways of working accordingly. As an addition to this the partnership should be also aware about its role of empowerment for young refugees while attributing tasks and responsibilities.

Communication Process

There should be a strong communication among the partners so that there is maximum transparency both within and outside of the partnership. Moreover, the partnership should have to agree on monitoring and evaluation as key principles. It is important to do this from the very beginning, so that questions regarding the outcome of the partnership and the funds involved can be answered and the value added of the partnership’s work be made visible. And these questions will arise not only from the outside world but also from inside the partnership. Partners will need to demonstrate where and how they are successful and if they are not, they need to indicate how their strategy is to be changed.


● While establishing a strategic partnership on international level the checklist down below can be useful for organisations to have a more structured approach:

○ Checklist
■ There is a strong sense of ownership, especially by the young refugee/migrant members within the partnership

  • Agreements are based on identifiable responsibilities, joint rights and obligations, and are signed by all relevant partners.
  • The partnership takes an inclusive approach (relevant actors such as young refugees/migrants are involved in planning and implementation).
  • Strong commitment from each of the partners is reflected in the fact that all partner organisations are equally present and, where possible, represented by experienced persons who have influence within their organisation.
  • Responsibilities and the nature of co-operation are clarified.
  • Rules of conduct (e.g. attendance of meetings, regular transfer of informationamong the partners) are clear for each partners.
  • Resources, knowledge, know-how and ideas are shared within the partnership.
  • Equal opportunities within the partnership are secured (partnerships will notnecessarily succeed if one or a small number of the partners are perceived as


  • The partnership should be able to acquire funding from a range of sources.
  • There is a clear system of monitoring and evaluation, on the basis of realisticperformance indicators and targets which are clearly defined.
  • An inclusive atmosphere is established where all partners can learn from each other and foster new ideas in an open exchange of experiences
  • The added value of the partnership to each partner is clear and accepted.

Programme and Vision Development

The strategic partnerships should have specific working programmes developed. These working programmes should consist of activities that focus on addressing the local needs. Furthermore, these programmes should base on a comprehensive assessment of local needs and a consultation process with local actors. In order to establish effective working programmes common objectives should be determined and targets should be set and should be clearly defined. The objectives and targets, and the working programme following from them should be reviewed and revised at regular intervals, taking into account partners’ experiences as well as changes in context. Programme targets should be compatible with relevant strategic documents (i.e. European or regional programmes and guidelines). As an addition to these, measures for permanent monitoring and evaluation should be planned and public relations activities as well as a clear external reporting system should be planned.

Deciding on mechanisms to ensure effectiveness in the long term: To facilitate the development of an effective strategic partnership it would be also useful to have a clear vision on an ineffective partnership. A partnership can be qualified as ineffective if partners do not share the same values and interests; if there is no sharing of risk, responsibility, accountability or benefits; if the inequalities in partners’ resources and expertise determine their relative influence in the partnership’s decision making; if there is a hidden motivation which is not declared to all partners; if partnership members do not have the training to identify issues, be aware of different refugee/migrant realities or resolve internal conflicts.

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