The term "partnership" (as well as related terms such as "collaboration," "coalition," and others) can be used to describe a wide variety of relationships and structures. Coalitions have been categorized by membership characteristics-grassroots volunteers or professionals or community-based combinations of professionals and grassroots leaders. Coalitions have also been typed according to their reason for formation, their functions, their stage of development, and their organizational structures.(22) Others have categorized partnerships according to their products: planning products, services, community actions, and community changes.(23) In terms of organizational structure, there are organization-set coalitions, which are groups of cooperating organizations that provide resources or services under an umbrella organization, for example, the United Way. There are network coalitions, which are loosely coupled groups of organizations that provide services to a particular client population and come together for a specific purpose. There are action-set coalitions, which bring together agencies and individuals that may not have been in the same network to achieve a particular purpose, planning, implementing, coordinating, and advocating for their communities.(24) Appendix C contains a review of several theoretical models of partnerships.
The relationship of differences in partnership type to their success has hardly been studied in a systematic way. One study that compared a partnership initiated within the community with one developed in response to an external funder's mandate found little difference.(25) Another examined state level adolescent pregnancy prevention coalitions that varied widely in their environments, structures, activities, and underlying philosophies and found no systematic differences in their effectiveness.(26) Some suggest that there are probably different combinations that are best in various circumstances and to achieve particular outcomes.(27)