Grantmakers for Effective Organizations reports that general operating support is the hardest funding to secure. Yet, partnerships report that it is often the most critical.
Launching and maintaining RPPs requires both sides of the partnership to learn new skills and to expand their capacities. There will be a learning curve in turning policy and practice priorities into researchable questions, negotiating roles and responsibilities, translating the research into clear and actionable steps, and maintaining trust even when the research findings are negative. Funders can build the capacity of RPPs by providing some funds for relationship-building activities, training, coordination, and communications. Further, most RPPs need time to produce useful research products and develop a track record with practitioners. The time and effort required to set up the infrastructure and build relationships mean that new RPPs may need a year or two to produce meaningful products. Ruth Turley (founder of the Houston Education Research Consortium) recalls, “That first year took a lot of funding, and though we made huge progress—in creating an MOU, setting up the database, building relationships-we had nothing tangible to show for it. We had to make the case for why not having research projects was not necessarily a bad thing” As this example demonstrates, the process of developing and maintaining an infrastructure for the partnership can be resource-intensive and require support beyond the funds allocated to discrete research projects. Thus it’s important for funders to be cognizant of the time it takes to lay the groun