Volume 2, Issue 1, Spring 2019
David M. Leege, Michael Sweikar
From Associational Value to Complementary Synergy
Eighteen Years of NGO-University Partnership
Since 2000, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame) have collaborated on joint programs while growing their institutional partnership. The relationship started with capacity strengthening of CRS peacebuilding staff and partners by Notre Dame faculty, based on common values enshrined in Catholic social teaching. Over time, the collaboration expanded as staff at each institution developed a better understanding of each other’s respective objectives, and experienced increasing mutual benefit. The partnership grew further as both institutions responded to external pressures from donors for universities and NGOs to work more closely together for greater field impact and evidence generation. Lessons learned from the partnership helped to guide both institution’s interactions with each other. From the initial task-oriented collaboration (capacity strengthening) that provided the institutions with associational value, CRS and Notre Dame gradually progressed toward deeper phases of partnership including resource transfer, interaction and achieving synergistic value.