Are we done? Why and when to end your partnership

All good things must come to an end. Make sure you end your partnership at the right time and be sure to celebrate your achievements.

Knowing when exactly to end a partnership can be as challenging as elements of the partnership itself.

It can be tempting to call a halt to a partnership if it seems to be in trouble or not achieving anything.

While those problems are causes for concern, most of the time they can be addressed by taking heed of the early warning signs and having the two partners work together to do something to address the causes of the problems.

Ending a partnership that is experiencing some problems but is still basically healthy means that all the time, effort, resources and planning put into its creation have been wasted.

It also means the partners and the community have not experienced the full benefits of partnership as they could have.

If things go wrong, there are a few things you should try before you throw in the towel.

Circumstances in which to end a well-performing partnership

There are three sets of circumstances that could see both partners decide to end what has generally been a well-performing partnership arrangement.

1. Your partnership has achieved its goals.

  • If your partnership has achieved what it set out to do for the business and not-for-profit group involved, as well as for the community itself, then it may have reached the end of its effectiveness and can be disbanded.
  • When ending such a partnership, ensure you celebrate your achievements and review what you have accomplished. Also keep in mind opportunities for future partnerships.
OUR TIP: The end of a formal partnership does not mean the end of a relationship

2. Your partnership has reached its time limit.

  • If both parties agreed to be involved in a partnership for a certain period of time – six months, a year, two years – then when that period ends, the agreement will terminate
  • If time runs out, but both partners wish to continue their partnership, then a new agreement will need to be negotiated.
  • Now is a good time to conduct a health check. Review the partnership to this point and take some time to acknowledge what has already been achieved.

3. Your stated partnership aims do not fit into your partnership's current structure.

  • If both parties agree that the partnership's current structure will not allow them to achieve their aims, then the partnership should be dissolved. It can then be re-focused.
  • Even if your partnership is functioning well, sometimes an unforeseen problem or issue can only be overcome by changing the partnership's structure.
  • Both parties need to agree to the change in structure, and should work together to redevelop their partnership so it can overcome the obstacle and achieve the goals it set out to achieve.

When ending a partnership in one of these three situations, both business and community groups should remember to celebrate what they have achieved and review the partnership they are ending – and keep an eye out for community–business partnership opportunities in the future.

A well-planned community–business partnership should have seen both partners develop and agree on an exit strategy when they assembled the arrangement.

OUR TIP: A good exit strategy will make it easier to organise and co-ordinate the end of a partnership.

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