Find project partners and build partnerships

Once you've got the international bug one of the biggest challenges when setting up an international youth project is: how to find the perfect partner?

First of all, clarify a couple of questions:

  • What kind of partner would you like to co-operate with? And which partner organisation would you not like to have? Why?
  • Are you looking for an organisation which shares the same rural background? Shares the same objectives? Works in the same field? Deals with the same challenges on a local level?
  • Which country should your partner organisation come from? Why?
  • Are you looking for a completely different experience with a country or several countries in other parts of Europe? Or would you prefer there to be many similarities?
  • Which languages are you & your rural young people or colleagues going to use for international communication and during your international activity? Are you looking for a country with a common or similar language?

Rural Tip
The section 'How to overcome linguistic barriers in international youth activities?' gives you some tips on international communication.

The questions above help you to get started. They help you to clarify your expectations and orient partner-finding initiatives. How do you find suitable partner organisations? There are many options and opportunities to identify and get in touch with a potential partner organisation. Different people prefer different partner-finding techniques, just like finding a partner in your own personal life.

Often, international activities start off with personal contacts between youth workers or board members from similar rural organisations abroad. You might not have these personal experiences with foreign organisations (yet), but maybe if you ask your members or colleagues, they might know of an organisation or activists abroad who would be interested in organising a project together with your organisation. Recommended contacts are also a good way of getting in touch with potential partner organisations.

If this doesn't work, you can take part in international events and activities where there are other potential partner organisations present (e.g. conferences, seminars, meetings, etc.). This way, you can get to know representatives and their organisations and find out to what extent they match with the answers you've given to the earlier questions. As in inter-personal relationships, be aware that you don't often find the perfect match, and compromises and flexibility are necessary.

We suggested some existing international activities, but there are also a number of specific 'Partnership Building Seminars' in the Youth in Action Programme where organisations are looking for potential partners too. Alternatively try to participate in international training courses and seminars on a topic that your organisation is also interested in. You might not find a rural partner organisation, but one that has a common interest, which could be the basis for an international project.

Within the European Union's Youth in Action programme, there are a variety of tools to help you find a partner group or international project:

  • Most National Agencies (NAs) of the Youth in Action programme have some kind of partner request form - usually in electronic format on their homepage. The NAs can forward your completed form to one or more of the other NAs located across Europe. These NAs use different ways to circulate the partner requests to potential partners (e.g. e-mail lists, website, newsletters,...). Find a list of NAs at
  • Some National Agencies also have a partner-finding database online, e.g. on the websites of the German and British NAs. Work is underway to merge all these different databases into one central partner-finding one. You can locate these databases via the SALTO partner-finding page at
  • If you are looking for a host organisation for a European Voluntary Service (EVS) project, you will find a list of approved hosting projects in the host organisation database at
  • You can also contact 'youth networks' which is a network of EVS organisations, if you are interested in sending or hosting a volunteer:
  • Some centres for Regional Co-operation have addresses of youth organisations and contact points in so-called 'partner countries' with which Youth in Action projects are possible. e.g. SALTO Eastern Europe & Caucasus:, SALTO South East Europe:, the EuroMed platform for co-operation with EuroMed countries:
  • The Yahoogroup of European Youth Exchanges might also be helpful for finding partners and for getting answers to technical and practical questions. You can register for this mailing list via
  • ...

International rural youth platforms, as well as the websites of national rural youth organisations in different countries, can be helpful when searching for partners. You can get information, contacts and ideas from European umbrella organisations for rural youth, such as MIJARC Europe and Rural Youth Europe. They can post your partner request on their website or send it around among their member organisations.

^^ top ^^


Rural Youth Europe is a non-governmental youth organisation which unites and represents rural young people in Europe. They offer non-formal educational training opportunities (in fields like youth participation, sustainable local development, Human Rights Education, Intercultural Learning, leadership training, gender mainstreaming,...) and influence rural youth policy. They provide many international opportunities, and address the needs and interests of young people in rural areas in Europe today.

Rural Youth Europe has 3 types of member organisations:

  • Rural Youth organisations
  • Young farmers' organisations
  • 4H Clubs

RYEurope's activities:

  • Study sessions for multipliers and rural youth leaders
  • European Rally: a big multilateral youth exchange
  • General Assembly to discuss and reflect on past, present and future
  • Training courses on specific rural or youth issues
  • Representation of rural youth in European institutions
  • Partnership with the IFYE-Programme (International 4H/Farmers' Youth Exchange)
  • Newsletter: 'Rural Youth Info'


^^ top ^^

MIJARC Europe (Mouvement International Jeunesse Agricole Rurale Catholique)

MIJARC Europe is the International Movement of Catholic Agricultural and Rural Youth. It is a movement of democratic and self-organised rural youngsters, an international network of national & regional rural movements and a training & education organisation. MIJARC Europe is an action-oriented movement, for young people by young people, based on Christian values, gathering together rural youngsters who want to participate in the building of a better and fairer society.

MIJARC-Europe is active in the fields of sustainable rural development, gender mainstreaming, agriculture and food-sovereignty, fair global development, youth policy, youth participation and Christian values. MIJARC-Europe is part of MIJARC World ( which is present in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe.

MIJARC Europe's activities:

  • European study sessions, seminars & study visits
  • Working groups on a European and worldwide level
  • Work camps dealing with a variety of rural topics
  • (Inter)continental exchanges of rural youth groups
  • Networking with other (rural) youth organisations, agriculture organisations...
  • Representation of rural youth in European institutions
  • Magazine: 'Info-Europe'


^^ top ^^

There are a number of other Europe-wide networks and umbrella organisations that can provide you with names and contacts of organisations in different countries. Have a look at the European Youth Forum website ( for a list of international youth NGOs and National Youth Councils active in Europe. Or think of organisations that could be active in the country of your choice OR in the topic you want to organise an international project on, e.g. Red Cross, Scouts, Young Chamber of Commerce, etc.

Most likely, the choosing will be more difficult than the finding.

^^ top ^^


The following downloads are available:

back to top