Photo Credit: DFID

Partnerships between companies and NGOs are like a marriage!

On October 13, Endeva and Save the Children Deutschland invited businesses and NGOs from the health sector to participate in an active dialogue and workshop! We discussed possible forms of cooperation between companies and NGOs – ranging from traditional philanthropy to inclusive business model development – and developed ideas for partnerships that create value for all: for businesses and NGOs, as well as for children and mothers around the world.

The workshop showed that there is appetite for partnerships from both sides, but that setting up partnerships that merge each partner’s strengths and their complementarity require time and investment from both sides.

Opportunities for partnerships by far exceed the risks! Participants of the workshop found various good reasons for working together, inducing the possibility to tap and leverage each other’s knowledge, resources or access to local networks.

NGO and businesses face very similar risks when forming partnerships! Both sides fear a lack of impact of the partnership and in consequence, loss of reputation. But they also fear to not meet the expectations of their internal or external shareholders and a potential conflict of interest with the partner organization.

A partnership is like a marriage! To be successful, both organizations need to be complementary, have clear expectations, willing to invest in the partnerships and open to trial and error. Like in a marriage, there needs to be a long-term commitment, but also a willingness to make compromises. To foster the creation of partnerships, an intense dialogue is needed between the two parties. All too often, CSR managers speak to fundraisers at NGOs. However, to create “shared value” projects, where both partners bring in their core strengths but also benefit equally, an intense dialogue is needed that also involves technical experts. To facilitate such a dialogue, neutral facilitators are needed.

As concrete next steps, the participants of the workshop suggested to hold a round-table or discussion series between NGOs and businesses to co-create and develop concrete ideas for collaboration in the health sector. The round table could be organized in form of a series with five sessions on concrete development challenges (e.g. maternal health, nutrition) with selected organizations. We welcome organizations interested in joining this potential initiative!

For more information, please contact Aline Menden.