This is a time for collaborations, partnerships, scales and thus revolutionizing the social development milieu. Especially in the wake of corporate social responsibility and sustainability concerns finding their ways into corporate strategies across countries and geographies; the state, the private sector and the ‘third’ sector are collaborating across spaces to lead to a better, converging picture in this context. NGOs are looking forward to this shift, and so are the corporates.
But finding a good match needs a good amount of research and is a time-taking exercise. For CSR initiatives, many companies have their own foundations and initiatives, but an expert in the field can be a true asset for a company. So here are a few tips for creating successful partnerships with NGOs:
- Find the ‘cause’ your company is going to support and then choose: In your boardroom discussions, your company’s strategies are decided, and CSR strategies are no different. Once you are clear about what cause aligns with your business values, do your research and find your potential partners.
- Look for an alignment of mission, vision and values: An NGO with aligning vision and core values, with professional staff and expertise is what you should look for. For example, a company which is a big multinational information technology firm, has committed its CSR efforts towards IT training and skilling for underprivileged children and youth, so it has collaborated with various NGOs working in skilling sector in various states in India. This helps them align their goals and objectives with that of the NGOs, while working towards the social responsibility.
- Involve the leadership and management: Involving the founders, CEOs and top management and those in leadership roles is very important for both sides. This ensures the real alignment of vision and values of both organizations, builds trust and also paves way for lasting and enduring partnerships in strategic terms.
- Long term thinking: Think of the partnership as a long term strategic investment. In terms of your company’s future strategies, sustainability initiatives, the CSR strategies must be linked with long- term goals. So thinking long term is very important.
- Clearly define roles and responsibilities: Clearly setting the roles and responsibilities of each party in the beginning itself will be helpful in the long run. It will also prevent any role clashes later. Clearly writing these in the contract/ MoU (Memorandum of Understanding)/ such documents can serve as guides for the implementation of the programs later.
- Trust: Trusting your NGO partner is the key to a successful partnership. Trusting would not mean completely agreeing to everything, or thinking the same way as the other. It means developing an equation that allows you to communicate freely, express your opinion, debate and discuss and then come up with conclusions with everyone’s inputs.
- Make use of your ‘core competency’: Each organization has its own strengths and core competencies. Your core competency might be marketing, while an NGO may have expertise in climate and environment. Finding a good match, making best use of each other’s strengths is the attribute of a successful partnership. So trust your own vision and values, research, plan ahead, find potential partners for your organization, and remember, no relation is perfect, you can work together towards making it one, and you just have to know that the cause is worth it!