What Makes for Great Partners (Mozilla Study)

After having managed hundreds of partnerships for the Mozilla Learning team through Maker Party, Mozfest, Hive Networks, training, tools and curriculum, we have gained substantial experience when working with a variety of organizations who range in age, size, location, mission and much more. Dealing with global partners requires individuals to be empathetic to needs, culture differences, local influence and especially timezones. Though we know that there are many organizations around the world who share the values as Mozilla, what has often been the hardest for our team is articulating what type of organizations make for great partnerships to support the work we are doing. There are opportunities for the Mozilla Learning team to partner with a range of organizations within our different program levels but while focusing specifically on our current curriculum and programs at a broad level, I explored the characteristics of organizations that will help our team achieve our ambitious goal of having sustained learning events in over 500 cities in 2015.

 Note: the assessment focuses on ideal attributes of an organization we want to work with and not on the value proposition both organizations receive in the partnership. Much of the below is the value they bring to our work, though there is reciprocal (along with other) value we also bring to a partnership that is not outlined.


Criteria: Depth, Spread and Participation

This year we will measure partner fit on three axes: depth, spread and participation.


  • Locations and audiences. Can implement our programs and curriculum i) in a variety of locations ii) with a cultivated audience iii) in a sustained way.
  • Existing organizational structures. Connects with and guides its educator community regularly and has the mechanisms to mobilize them readily, especially through intermediary community management staff.
  • Localization. Depending on where they implement programs and curriculum, have a community that is able to translate materials into multiple languages or adapt it to a specific audience.


  • Growth and leadership potential. Has strong individual leaders eager for further professional development or potential to cultivate a large networked group, such as a Hive City.
  • Size. Has a large network that it can mobilize for specified partnership efforts.
  • New access. Can open doors to new cities or mentors. In rare cases, to new partners.


  • Shares our values. Individual members embrace Mozilla’s values, including its pedagogy, open practices, and commitment to the open web.
  • Participate in our community. The partner organization, through its staff and community members, participate genuinely to improving the Learning Networks’ i) curriculum, ii) organizing model, or iii) community practices.
  • Reputation. Is known and trusted, as well as willingness to also leverage their reputation for our partnership.
Deciding factors:

We should engage with partners when they:

  • can fill many of the needs above
  • can help us achieve our goals of activating more mentors and/or more cities
  • are willing to co-brand on campaigns and programs that increases mentors and cities
  • are able to invest in parts of the program
  • ideally, have a team on the ground and/or intermediary staff who are willing to execute partnership and their own intermediary staff to manage them

When should we NOT engage?

  • Our curriculum will loose site among the many other partners they have
  • They are a big brand name that we feel would look good to partner with
  • They are not fully committed to participating
  • They will not share out agreed upon communication
  • They don’t have the organizational structures in place to implement our partnership


Steps to a successful partnership:
  1. Identification. Gather leads from events, speaking opportunities, meetings and networks. Log in Salesforce.
  2. Initial assessment. Review potential partner against key questions and criteria to determine if a positive match exists.
  3. Connect. Make an introduction to a member of the Learning Networks team identifying the relationship and potential opportunity.
  4. Deeper assessment. Learning Networks team member to have follow-up discussion with potential partner and discuss how the partner can align with our goals.
  5. Plan of action. Determine plan for partner execution and set timeline with completion goals.
  6. Ongoing support. Learning Networks team member continues supporting the partnership and connecting it with the larger organizational goals and narrative.
  7. Review. After activity has been successfully completed, discuss outcomes with partner, mitigate any concerns and identify future opportunities.
Questions for new partners:
  • Goals. Do we share similar goals? How are they similar and compatible?
  • Execution. Are they able to easily implement our programs into their existing networks?
  • Impact. How can we have collective impact?
  • Risks. Where is there potential for the partnership to break?
  • Sharing. Are they willing to share our brand, practices, communications and community?
  • Longer-term. What does a partnership look like in one year? In 3 years?
  • Funding. Do they have potential funding for programs?
  • Compatibility. Will they (or have they been) easy to work with?

Examples of Past Successful Partnerships

Innovate South Africa – Maker Party 2014 partner

  • Ran multiple webmaking events with young girls
  • The team has remixed and created multiple teaching kits for other community member or organizations to use
  • The are among the first to teach large audiences using Webmaker tools in South Africa
  • Created many digital assets highlighting Mozilla and shared them with the community, including a Maker Party video
  • Active member in helping pilot a new community in South Africa with Mozilla participation team
  • Continued participation after the Maker Party campaign to help in the successful rollout of Mozilla Web Clubs in South Africa

School of Open, P2PU, Creative Commons – Maker Party 2014 partner, Network partner

  • Helped facilitate many events throughout Africa for Maker Party
  • Long time contributor to helping us remix curriculum and shape learning material
  • Has given us access to new leaders in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Nigeria
  • Ran sessions at Mozfest, spoke in a Teach the Web Talk and participated in community forums throughout the year

Coder Dojo – Maker Party 2014 partner, Network partner

  • Shared Maker Party material and event sign-up with their community
  • Encourages participation in Mozilla activities, curriculum and tools by their local dojo leads
  • Eager to share our material on web literacy and support ‘learning by making’ mentality
  • Access to a global network of hundreds of dojos around the world
  • Local chapters are active in our existing network, such as Coder Dojo NYC being a member of Hive NYC

IMLS – Maker Party 2014 partner, Network partner

  • Shared communications on running events to teach the web to network of almost 10,000 libraries in the U.S.
  • Access to local librarians who are eager to participate, connect and learn with others around the world who are teaching digital literacy
  • Eager to continue sharing curriculum and tools to libraries who want to participate in Maker Party or create local clubs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s