Aid partnership visibility basics

Whether you are part of a new global development initiative with multiple partners, or an ongoing project in one location with few partners, there are basic considerations when it comes to visibility for your partnership.

Getting basic visibility ‘right’ has multiple benefits for everyone involved. Getting it ‘wrong’ can seriously undermine progress, for example, causing a breakdown in trust between partners or a loss of local ownership.

Among the classic pitfalls to avoid are publishing information about your initiative which omits the names of several partners or misrepresents the contribution of any given partner.

1. Know who your partners are

Maintain a register of the official partners for your development initiative and their respective roles and contribution: technical, financial and in-kind. Include contact details for their nominated visibility focal points, often communication officers or project managers.

This may sound simple. However, many partnerships are complex and involve several layers of contracted organisations over the life of an initiative. Changes in political leadership, restructures of government ministries and mergers between civil society organisations are other factors which can cause confusion.

2. Understand their expectations

Check partnership agreements and your partners’ visibility guidelines to be clear about their formal requirements. Search for visibility manuals and logo use guides in the Donorzone Resource centre .

Visibility conditions in legal documents should be your starting point to make sure you meet, and ideally exceed, your partners’ minimum requirements. For certain donors, public acknowledgement is a condition of funding. It is also important to consult your partners to confirm their expectations.

3. Work together to achieve appropriate visibility

Creating visibility for any given development initiative works best when it is a coherent team effort involving all official partners and other key stakeholders. Work with your partner or partners to agree how you will collaborate to highlight the shared goals and results of your partnership, and call upon each parties’ respective expertise and networks.

Joint communication strategies which integrate visibility tactics and set out agreed objectives and actions by each partner, are recommended. So too is setting up a communication working group. Share materials and report back to your partners on progress.

Fragile settings

What constitutes “appropriate” visibility varies. If your partnership initiative is set in, or involves, a conflict zone or other fragile setting, it is of utmost importance to avoid any unintended consequences of visibility efforts. Assess whether publishing the names and photographs of citizens could put them at risk, or whether advance promotion of an event featuring controversial figures could trigger violent conflict.

In some settings, progress may be accelerated if your initiative has a low profile with limited information in the public domain. Consult your partners to agree on the desired level of visibility.

Visit our FAQ section for more, or contact us:


–  By Julie Marks, Donorzone founder

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