May 24, 2023
Creating synergies between NGOs and businesses
What is the best way for businesses and NGOs to create partnerships for an effective and long-term impact?
The Academy of Givers held another of its monthly member’s meetings on the 16th of May 2023 at Gracy's Arts & Supper Club, Valletta. This time, the discussion was on discovering and sharing best practices on how to create synergies between NGOs and Businesses. In addition to the Academy’s members, several NGOs were also present and contributed to the discussion.
The session saw some businesses and NGOs share their experiences and practical examples of partnerships that have given and continue to give good results. Present sharing were Growth Gurus, Flutter Entertainment – in partnership with SPARK15 –, and the Gasan Foundation, as well as MSPCA, Inspire Foundation, Step Up for Parkinson’s and Migrant Offshore Aid Station. Group discussions were also held on best practices on creating partnerships to give effectively, understanding synergies, and learning from each other.
What emerged from this afternoon can be summed up in a series of suggestions for both Companies and NGOs on how to improve their approach to one another.
When approaching the Voluntary Sector, businesses should keep their pillars in mind, so they can have a clear idea of what causes they will be supporting that best align with those pillars. Employee engagement is also something to keep into consideration: employees will be more prone to take part in CSR activities if they feel like the cause they are supporting is aligned with their company’s values and has a proper meaning to them.
The problem that was pointed at the most is the lack of communication from both sides. Therefore, businesses should be clear on the ways NGOs can approach them and should give clear feedback to the NGOs that submitted a proposal that got rejected. Showing accountability and transparency – from both sides – is the key to a long-lasting collaboration: companies should never stop learning from NGOs and understand their needs and gaps, so to be able to better support them. To get a better understanding of your actions as a company, do not forget to always measure your impact.
Overall, as a business always remember to move beyond just a charity approach based on financial support.
- Create a long-term strategy to support or invest in the Voluntary Organisation that most aligns to your pillars.
- Create a system to help VOs become more sustainable, also supporting their salaries for the initial period. Having clear KPIs or objectives will help ensuring they reach their objectives without being too dependent.
- Help NGOs create an effective system for reporting. Support their efforts toward transparency and accountability.
- Most importantly, use the skills and resources you have as a business to help VOs achieve their goals.
It is a two-way learning process; therefore, NGOs should also improve the ways they approach Companies, first and foremost by doing some research beforehand on the company’s pillars to see if they align with them or not. Moreover, when pitching your proposal, make it easy to read through. Short and effective proposals will most likely be preferred as long as they contain a comprehensive quantification of the expected impact. How many people will benefit? In what way?
Do not forget to nurture the relationship: follow-ups and communication with the business that supports you are important to show transparency and accountability. NGOs should always report on the progress of projects to their sponsors. This way, they will give sponsors an idea on the impact their contribution is having and give them information that they can share with their community and employees and on their social channels.
JA Malta, one of the VOs present on the day shared with us what works for them when approaching companies and the types of collaboration/s they offer, such as:
- Asking for companies to promote the idea to volunteer with JA Malta in terms of delivering content and training in a classroom.
- They offer companies the facility to deliver training to the company’s’ employees. This gives the benefit that the company will be offering employees training not on skills directly needed for the job but life-skills such as financial literacy, money management and ideation etc. The employees then see the benefit of these sessions and are more willing to volunteer, while the company gets something tangible in return for their support.
- Companies are offered the possibility to host students in their offices for a job shadow day, where a student shadows a C-level executive to learn more about the company, about the work and the office life.
This way, it is possible to not only receive financial support from companies, but various types of in-kind support, including:
- Mentorship for students (also though job shadowing)
- Volunteers to deliver training
- Participation in careers expo
- Feedback / advisory / ad-hoc contact points to get their input.
Overall, what emerged from the discussion was a need for both sides to rethink the way they approach each other. As mentioned above, it is a two-way street and a two-way learning experience, with the aim of creating a long-term partnership to make a meaningful Impact, in Malta as well as in the world.