Blogs & Comment

Better Partnerships with Non-Profits

Yesterday I participated in a forum hosted by the Ontario Council for International Cooperationcalled Tools for Collaboration: Why Working Together Can Be More Effective Than Reinventing the Wheel. Participating non-profits included groups such as Oxfam Canada, Street Kids International, World Vision Canada, World Vision Canada, and the YMCA of Greater Toronto.
The session was another indication of how far apart the corporate and non-profit sectors really are. On the one hand, the social issues non-profits are addressing are escalating and the financial resources available to them from the public and private sector are harder to come by. In this context, there’s a realization among non-profits that a collaborative partnership-based approach is needed. On the other hand, non-profits are wary of getting too close to corporations and aren’t familiar with how corporations operate.
Corporations are in the opposite position. They need more alignment with social issues and the credibility that a partnership with a non-profit brings is invaluable and essential. However, working with non-profits is very different that working with business partners (decision-making is more complex, objectives are different, and measures of success aren’t always clear) and most “partnerships” are actually strategic donations.
I believe corporations and non-profits do need to work together as partners. In order to do this, they need to take the time to map out shared objectives, identify and leverage existing complementary resources, and have a means of measuring social and business outcomes.