Can we make success of an NGO-Corporate partnership in CSR??

The write-up is the culmination of a thought that has been taunting me ever since we started hearing CSR from various forums. On a very honest evaluation, how many corporates in our country can claim they are after sincere implementation of CSR of their own. In many cases we will find that it is kind of tactical compulsion from different arms of the government to implement CSR and report the activities and its budget to the government. But for this compulsion, how many of our emerging corporates would have adopted CSR as a means to reach out to the society that has sacrificed many a things to look up to that corporate from its inception days with too many expectations.

Particularly after joining as member of Rotary International and after understanding a bit of its various activities taken up globally, several times it occurred to me why not a partnership between a respectable, well-meaning NGO and a corporate? Can this partnership bring out measurable changes to the society / community to which the corporate is indebted in many ways? Corporate should be entrenched in its own core business and the partner can take care of its social responsibilities. This way the whole purpose and target of any Corporate with regards to its social responsibility can be well accomplished. I think.

The NGO – already working with the masses in the society or community – has the in depth knowledge of what that particular society actually needs. If the corporate has any specific area or budget in mind they can collaborate with a respectable NGO to meet the need of the community by consulting and discussing with the NGO. This way the corporate can rest assured that their allotted budget reaches the target segment for its maximum value. Now, depending upon the allocation of funds they can implement such community projects through the NGO in a mutually comfortable manner.

Measuring the success of such corporate-NGO partnerships in general may be a little difficult. The search for ways to rethink traditional development aid strategies with that of specially designed ones to suit the local and current situation can be easily explored. I am sure that such partnerships can significantly contribute to proper, adequate and well-meaning value additions to CSR.

The corporate, by aligning with reputed NGOs, can improve its image also through whatever it does on CSR front, as the message will be travelling across the borders. Although I am not very sure to what extent it will contribute

The perceived challenges to this co-operation model could be –

  1. Evaluating the success of partnerships and clear conclusions about whether they are sustainable, and whether they can significantly contribute to development in the long- term.
  2. Whether or not there will be enough motivation to pursue these same goals by the partners.
  3. Whether or not there could be an identity crisis for the credit sharing of the accomplishments and
  4. Whether there could be any kind of irritants in exclusive granted projects of NGO.

As I can seen, one of the reasons, I believe, corporate-NGO partnerships can be successful is because they can be more focused, and target development on a much smaller scale than larger aid-driven projects. I know that such projects will have the capacity to impact only fewer people; but can be done in a more significant way.

If – the collective brains – can address a few of the following concerns, I think this thought can be given a try with a small project to begin with –

  1. How partnership projects tie into development as a whole.
  2. Could there be risks of accusations being leveled on aid being “reassigned” to the private sector.
  3. Will the general mood of NGOs being considered trustworthy and others not have any impact on such partnership.

Despite these problems, can we think even remotely that corporate-NGO partnerships could turn out to be a step in the right direction in terms of influencing corporate culture as well as the non-profit sector in some ways? More of such thoughts, a reasonable analysis by few positive brains may be able to crystallise how this will evolve to benefit the communities at large.

At the end of the day, Rotary stands for benefitting the deprived, underprivileged and the needy? So I think……


Madhu K. Nair [19th august 2012]

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