From philantrophy to win-win partnerships
The cooperation between corporations and organisations is in flux.
Global challenges have made cooperation a necessity in problem solving. The sustainable development goals (SDGS), which have a huge funding gap, require companies and their resources to be involved. At the same time, companies are defining their purposes, which often involves societal aspects.
Several companies are moving from donating money to more strategic cooperation with organisations. There is a desire for shared value partnerships where both parties can promote their own goals. For companies, it may be a matter of risk management. Supply chain audits might have revealed, for example, insufficient living wages paid by suppliers or unreasonably long working hours in high-risk countries, both of which are risk factors for the use of child labour. The solution to these requires systemic changes, which are often pushed by local NGOs. Organisations have local expertise and networks, and thus good opportunities to influence, for instance, legislation to bring about change together with companies.
However, partnerships are not just about risk management. Cooperation with organisations at its best brings also business opportunities and innovations. Partnership with an organisation with a strong brand increases the value of one's own brand and improves the employer image. Sometimes employees even see companies' support for organisations as an employee benefit, and working in cooperation projects as part of their work very motivating. Organisations with extensive networks in the countries in which they operate are able to open doors for companies seeking internalisation, especially in emerging markets. There might be opportunities to pilot products or services in their projects, and several international organisations are also large buyers of goods and services worldwide. In the future, innovative financing solutions enable investments as additional means to support organisations. Some organisations are already offering bonds and other financial instruments in order to fund their activities.
Promoting business while doing good does not take value away from the good deeds. The way is just different. Achieving effective cooperation requires changes in both companies and organisations. Companies should treat organisations like any other valuable partners in which money and other resources are invested. With the larger inputs, the outputs and impacts increase. Organisations, on the other hand, should develop their processes and know-how to support business operations so that they can offer companies genuinely functional support and gain more impact in their work. Obviously, strategic partnerships between corporations and organisations must be built like any other good partnership, from mapping potential partners to joint planning, implementation and measurement, as well as communication. Trendsetters are looked for, there are plenty of opportunities out there.
Outi Mikkonen, Corporate Responsibility Advisor at Impaktly Strategy