With their focus on blending commercial and social value, inclusive businesses have long understood the benefit of partnerships to their business models, and such partnerships often involve other businesses, large corporations, as well as NGOs. But what is happening in the current corporate-NGO partnering landscape and what is the direction of travel?
Eight years ago, the C&E Corporate-NGO Partnerships Barometer was launched as an annual study to assess the motivations, drivers, barriers, enablers, role models, trends and forecasts for Corporate-NGO partnering. Created with input from nearly 130 leading businesses and NGOs, the recently released 2017 edition highlights some notable findings.
Partnering practice and effectiveness
Here, the 2017 Barometer report found:
What value do partners bring to each other?
The report found that aside from reputational and financial gains, strategic partnerships are creating strong value as corporates and NGOs leverage each other’s assets, revenue models, expertise, organisational capacity and competencies to scale and sustain social, environmental and commercial solutions for targeted constituencies.
Companies (97%) and NGOs (85%) state that partnerships across both sectors help to improve business understanding of social and environmental issues. Additionally, 63% of corporate and NGO respondents (year on year increases of 4% and 12% respectively) state that partnerships have helped change business practices for the better. So, from working with companies to eliminate single-use plastics in their operations, to driving inclusive, pro-poor practices across their value-chains, cross-sector partnerships appear to be moving the dial for NGOs, for businesses, and for society.
Likely future developments
Looking to the next 3 years, the 2017 Barometer found that:
Final thoughts and challenges
The 2017 Barometer clearly illustrates that strategic partnerships between businesses and NGOs are increasing in scale, sophistication and potential as their true value becomes more apparent. That more organisations are engaging in deeper, problem-solving partnerships designed to address core, mission-relevant or purpose-led issues in ways that create value for society, is clearly cause for celebration. However, challenges remain, particularly for NGOs.
Increasingly, innovation blossoms where the sectors converge. At these intersections, the exchanges of ideas and values, shifts in roles and relationships, and integration of private capital with public good generate new and better approaches to creating more sustainable social, environmental and shareholder value. So wrote Prof Rosabeth Moss Kanter in the Stanford Social Innovation Review several years ago.
As the private sector becomes more important actors in the development and social business eco-system, courageous leadership is required, if the potential of cross-sector collaboration encapsulated by Rosabeth Moss Kanter is to be realised.
This blog is a part of the October 2017 series on NGOs in inclusive business, in partnership with endeva.
Read the full series for insights on what kind of roles NGOs have carved out for themselves, either as partners of companies, as intermediaries, investors, or even as entrepreneurs and their lessons learnt in doing so.