The purpose of managing resources for your partnership is to support the achievement of objectives, increase efficiency while monitoring, and documenting the resources used. Poor resource management leads to poor outcomes and potentially dries up your resources in the longer run.
Strong resource management can serve the following purposes:
- Ensure transparency of financial decisions and agreements in the partnership.
- Safeguard equitable distribution of costs and contributed resources by each partner.
- Support the achievement of objectives and documentation of the resources used.
- Ensure accountability and reassurance to partners and third party funders.
Cross-sector partnerships typically rely on many different types of resources; e.g. in-kind, finance, human resources, access, knowledge / data etc.
All of these resources can be crucial contributions to the partnership. However, if you have not specified the value and expectations for each partner in terms of resources, and you have not defined clear responsibilities in the MOU/Partnership Agreement and governance structure, then resource management can potentially be a big challenge.
To get an overview, all resources should be valued and quantified into either man-hours or monetary terms, which will make it easier to manage and monitor resource use and distribution.
Ideally, resource management is part of your Monitoring and Evaluation framework, defining the methodology for monitoring project progress, resources and risks.
Partnerships can make use of very different funding models that as a consequence require different levels of resource contribution and disclosure, e.g.:
- Third party funding, e.g. from foundation, institutional donor, venture capital etc.
- Funding contributed partly by third party and partly by the partner organisations
- Funding contributed only by the partner organisations
The guiding questions below are primarily relevant for addressing resource risks in partnerships that are third party funded or in your own organisation’s management of partnership finance:
1.1 Operating budget:
- Who develops and approves the operating budget?
- Who operates bookkeeping, manages interim accounts and the final project account?
- Who approves expenses and issues invoices?
- Who is responsible for registering and paying duty, VAT and taxes correctly in the countries, where the partnership has activities?
- What is the scope and frequency of external audit and reporting, if relevant?
1.2 Cash flow budget:
- Who develops and approves the cash flow budget?
- Who is given the power of attorney to open bank accounts?
- Who pays bills and transfers funds?
- Which expenses are accepted without documentation?
- What is the maximum amount accepted without documentation, if relevant?
2. Implementation – development of interim accounts:
- Who receives and approves interim accounts?
- Who has the mandate to demand an upgrade / adjustment if the operating or cash flow budget, if necessary?
3. Closure – development of final project account showing results after project closure:
- Who approves the final project account and closes the project financially?
- Who has the power-of-attorney to close bank accounts and transfer any residual cash?