Tools for Productive Partnerships Among Creatives, Changemakers, and Funders


As storytelling and media become increasingly vital to social change efforts, creatives, change-makers, funders, researchers and others are working ever more closely. Projects like Sandy Storyline, The Homestretch, and The North Pole are evidence of the alchemy that emerges when each sector brings what they do best to the table.

But people who work in these fields don’t necessarily share language, culture, expectations, or even a common vision. Indeed, almost everyone has a story about a partnership that could have worked better. Too often, miscommunication gets in the way of great collaborations.

Yes, the complex situations we’ve heard about (and experienced ourselves during dozens of film-fueled engagement campaigns at Active Voice between 2000-2015) are all unique. But by listening carefully to our How Do We Know network, our research suggests that there are broad categories that deserve special and early attention. We call these the four “M’s.”

Prenups for Partners - Mission

Why are we working together?

Prenups for Partners - Method

How will we design and implement our project?

Prenups for Partners - Money

Who’s paying for what?

Prenups for Partners - Mobility

What happens when things change?


We created Prenups for Partners so that creative allies can discuss these broad themes and tailor the conversation to their own situations.

Photo credit: Donald Tong

Practical Tips: WARNING

Some partnerships may be full of joy and common purpose, so please don’t let the “worst case scenarios” included below scare you off. Instead, think of P4P as the creative equivalent of the required voice-over in pharmaceutical ads: “Side effects may include…” If you’re the kind of innovator who wants to know what could get in the way — and circumvent them at the get-go — Prenups for Partners is for you.

What Our Partners are Saying

We're a team of filmmakers and advocates (storytellers and social entrepreneurs!) from the Middle East; Jordanians, Palestinians and Israelis. We're glad we had Prenups for Partners to help us work through some big issues (i.e. licensing, copyrights), as well as some sensitive geopolitical ones (i.e. security risks) and even the smallest wrinkles that can arise in newly created partnerships…Thank you Stories of Change and Active Voice Lab!

Mira, Munqeth, Yoav and Ido, The Dead Sea Guardians

The Legend of the Vagabond Queen of Lagos is our most ambitious project yet: a co-creative partnership between a veteran South African filmmaker, a global movement of the urban poor, and a team of young Nigerians from the slums of Lagos who are learning filmmaking while telling the real-life stories from their communities. The multiphase project spans the gamut from short “legend-hunting” clips for social media to a dramatic feature-length Nollywood film. We're adapting and using Prenups for Partners at key steps along the way — it's like a roadmap in the uncharted wilderness of the co-creative process.

Megan, Andrew and James, The Legend of the Vagabond Queen of Lagos

Thanks to our generous funders!

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