Identifying a holistic partnership model within a specific context is a big first step towards growing and scaling your mission and strategies. It is even possible to integrate the principles of this model into the actual tactics your organization is currently performing.

But in order to really maximize our overall effectiveness, we need to also understand the best way to implement this model. Is there a way to harness the human resources and “front-line” knowledge of our field-based force while at the same time enjoy the unifying purpose and stability of the organization’s brand?

Of course, there is. We can effectively take advantage of the best of both levels of leadership by implementing our holistic partnership model according to the smallest strategic unit (SSU). The SSU is nothing more than a label given to the most local implementation of your organization’s strategy. It may be a specific program, a local community, or a specific people group. It is also possible, even likely, that your organization has more than one strategy which can be broken down into an SSU.

The important role of the SSU is that it allows an organization to implement the holistic partnership model around a very specific unit of the organization while also being able to scale impact by reproducing this or other strategies. By utilizing the smallest strategic unit (SSU) as a foundational building block, we can effectively:

  1. Reinforce the objective as strategic impact, not the sending of field staff.

  2. Promote a more unified team on the field.

  3. Allow a more strategic and efficient use of resources.

  4. Bring partners closer to the strategic impact.

  5. Create more efficient and effective communication.

  6. Create a stronger brand promise around strategic impact.

  7. Invite larger gifts due to the larger, comprehensive impact-based budget.

  8. Maintain partnership beyond any individual missionary’s involvement.                            


If mission agencies are going to move past a traditional funding model, and re-align themselves for efficiency and growth, they must do it while maintaining the current communication and fundraising efforts. We literally have to discover how to re-build the plane while flying it. We have to risk crashing in order to avoid the safer but still deadly long descent into irrelevance. The Holistic Partnership Model can be implemented by your mission agency through your smallest strategic unit using these five steps.

Step 1: Identify the smallest strategic unit (SSU) within your organization. The smallest strategic unit may be a local community, a people group, or a specific initiative.

  • Action item - Our organization’s SSU: _______________________________________________.

Step 2: Identify the SSU’s impact goal, ensuring it reinforces the overall impact goal of the organization.

  • Action item - Our SSU’s goal for ministry is: ___________________________________________.

Step 3: Dialogue with team leadership to clarify the holistic partnership model.

  • Action item - Team leaders with whom you need to communicate: __________________________.
  • Action item - Main points of discussion for team leaders:__________________________________.

Step 4: Coach every individual team member through understanding how the model might look for their SSU:

  • Action item - What the model looks like for each SSU: ____________________________________.
  • Action item - Areas in which the team members need to be coached: ________________________.

Step 5: Develop core messages and a vision-based budget around strategic impact that will guide all communication and fundraising efforts for the SSU.

  • Action item - SSU’s core messages to communicate: ____________________________________.
  • Action item - Items/expense/income for budget:________________________________________.
  • Action item - Communication guidelines and expectations for entire SSU:_____________________.

Step 6: Create a single management system for all SSU partners, and clarify the shift towards the ministry impact to existing key donors.

  • Action item - Management system for receiving/processing partners and gifts: _________________.
  • Action item - Roles, responsibilities, timeline for communicating with partners: _________________.