The greatest value to a not-for-profit from partnering with business is:
a. The money
b. I don't know - I don't do partnerships
c. Good catering and nice meeting rooms
d. The scale of impact
In her paper, A Helping Hand or a Hijacking? How Nonprofits Can Respond to Ever-Increasing Corporate Involvement in the Community, Bea Boccalandro argues corporate-community partnerships have the potential to amplify our current scope of impact "hundreds, maybe thousands of times over."
So why has the not-for-profit sector yet to capitalize on the immense scale of the corporate sector by leveraging ALL the resources available to us for achieving social good? Forget all of the disappointing and lackluster partnerships you've had in the past. We know - it's happened to all of us. And we've all done it over and over again, exactly the same way, expecting different results.
Let's be honest with ourselves. Are we using the term "partnership", but really only asking for money? Then realizing that money isn't enough to make large-scale impact? Why do we think that money solves everything? We certainly don't think that in our personal lives, we tell ourselves that money can't buy love/happiness/friends/everything....
So let's move beyond the money. Let's look at people, products, procurement, facilities, brand, technology, values, [insert your ideas here]. How can we influence and utilize these corporate functions to create social good? Businesses require not-for-profits to achieve their community goals. We live in an era of Corporate Social Responsibility and their involvement in social issues is not going to go away anytime soon (if ever). Innovative and impactful not-for-profits will be those that recognize this and build untraditional partnerships to carry their mission well beyond its current scope.
As Bea suggests, we should be striving for "integrative" partnerships - where two entities work so closely together that aspects of each organization are meaningfully affected by the other. Those of us that are ready to dream big will one day envision the type of corporate-community partnership that realizes a scale of impact so great, neither side can say "no", and both will enthusiastically wander down the long, hard (mucky) path to reach that goal.
Bea is one of the biggest blue sky thinkers we know in this area and we look forward to welcoming her to Vancouver on November 22. Join Bea to hear her propose an end to corporate volunteerism and community partnerships as we know them. Be there as she challenges not-for-profit and business leaders to create a new scale of social transformation together.
Vantage Point's Leaders Forum convenes BC's not-for-profit executives, board members and corporate leaders for intensive learning opportunities with key thought leaders and innovators.
© 2019 Vantage Point.