Memorandums oUnderstanding or MOUs may seem like a lot of work and overhead, but they are simple to write up and will help you facilitate a positive and proactive discussion with the organization or group that you’re looking to partner with.  An MOU is really just a way to fill the gaps between your exploratory talks and a final, formalized contract and generally are not enforceable as legal documents.  However they serve as an important communications mechanism to build out the agreement.  There are a few key items that you want to build into your MOU and the acronym PPRRTT will help you remember some of the key elements to include and review with the other organization.

  • Purpose – What is the purpose of this agreement?  What is the scope of it?  Anything in particular NOT in scope?

  • Participants – Who does this agreement cover?  Who are the participants in it?  Is it just you and your management team or does it extend to volunteers and employees and other people that work with your organization?

  • Roles – Clearly define each of the participants roles in the agreement.  Does each of your participants above have a clearly defined role?  It’s a good idea to do a matching exercise to ensure each of your participants can be matched to a corresponding role.

  • Responsibilities – For each role, now clearly define the responsibilities.  These are not just physical activities but also communication roles, documentation roles and other measurable deliverables.

  • Term – Very important to define the starting and ending dates for this agreement so it is clear how long it runs for.

  • Termination – Besides the end date defined in the term, are there ways for either party to terminate the agreement?  Are there steps required prior to terminating the agreement such as open discussion, written complaint, etc.?  Can it be terminated for convenience and if so, how?

We’ve compiled some good examples of MOUs below to get you started.

  1. U.S. Department of Heath & Human Services – Simple PDF template with an example between a community organization and a non-profit organization.

  2. Oregon department of justice – PDF example with sections to clearly define roles and responsibilities

  3. State of Indiana – Word document template again with sections to define and capture roles, responsibilities, parties and termination.

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