What is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)?

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is a documented agreement that sets out how a partnership arrangement will operate. It enables all parties involved in the collaborative activity see that they are agreeing to the same arrangements, and provides a solid reference to go back to should disagreements arise. It must be remembered that MOUs are non-legally binding documents however they provide necessary structure to the collaborative process and help ensure no unrealistic expectations arise.

Use the Potential Collaboration Check List to assess the level of risk to your organisation arising from the proposed collaboration.  The more categories and potential risks that apply in your circumstances, the more substantial your documentation needs to be.

Elements of a Memorandum of Understanding

Even a simple MOU should contain several basic elements. These include:

  • The names of the collaborating partners
  • The objective of the Collaboration
  • The Principles that will establish the practice framework
  • The things that the parties have reached agreement on. This can be a few dot points in the MOU itself, or a reference to a Partnership Agreement that outlines:
    • The role of each party
    • Responsibilities of each party
    • Tasks to be undertaken by each party
    • Quality and performance monitoring or performance management
    • Agreed protocols or policies and procedures
    • Risk management
    • Rights and safeguards (such as intellectual property, confidentiality, privacy)
    • Resource use arrangements
    • Reporting and accountability
  • The duration of the MOU and review date
  • A dispute resolution process
  • The role of the MOU – noting that the document is non-legally binding but provides the principles that underpin the collaboration and outlines the timeframe and the areas of commitment.
  • Signatures of Collaborative partners and signatures of witnesses

More information

To find out more about MOUs visit Community Door website where you can also find more information regarding partnerships and collaboration and examples of useful tools.