Corporate Social Responsibility: 5 tips for companies & NGOs

What are the real benefits of cooperations between environmentalists and corporations? What actually characterizes a successful, authentic Corporate Citizenship in a partnership? We give 5 tips from our experience in the field.

First of all, there is no blueprint for ideal cooperations and partnerships between companies and NGOs. Nevertheless, there are factors that contribute significantly to the success of the cooperation.

Definition of CSR and CC

"Corporate Social Responsibility", also referred to as CSR, is the responsibility of companies for their impact on society. While most areas of CSR concern the core business, the term “Corporate Citizenship”, referred to as CC, is about the social commitment of companies beyond their core business. However, not every company that engages in Corporate Citizenship is a "good" corporate citizen. Greenwashing is the term when grievances in the core business are covered up by CC activities.

1. The choice of the strategic partner is crucial

Carefully weigh up the risks and opportunities associated with a partnership. Are SDGs (Social Development Goals) and CSR buzzwords used by the company only in its communication, or are the efforts to achieve a positive social/ecological footprint also visible in the corporate strategy and the core business?

How is the nonprofit organization positioned? Does it have a clear vision and strategy? Can it demonstrate the impacts of its work to date in a convincing way? It also helps to include the perspectives of third parties, e.g. former cooperation partners.

2. The company and NGOs are tugging at the same rope

Emphasize open communication and develop a common understanding of where the journey is headed: What will the world look like if the cooperation was successful? What are the specific results for the respective partners? Only if both partners follow a common understanding, the cooperation can be successful.

3. Corporate Citizenship needs measurable objectives

Always set yourself specific targets and success indicators: How can you tell that the cooperation is (still) successful? Who needs to be involved in order to be able to make a statement about it? Regular meetings to exchange ideas and information help to stay on the right track.

4 Corporate Citizenship cooperations at eye level

Meet your partner at eye level. Clarify the division of roles and decision-making processes at the beginning. Recognize the different cultures, competencies and needs and learn from each other. A partnership can only be successful if both sides benefit from it.

5. Sustainability requires perseverance

Think and act for the long run. The longer you work with a partner, the more impact you will achieve. Look for partners who also focus on a long-term commitment.

Genuine partnerships require an open mind towards the other partners perspectives and an understanding of their point of view. This may slow down the process, but leads to more consistent solutions. Or as an African saying goes: If you want to go fast, walk alone; if you want to go far, walk together.

In this video, Andreas Rickert, CEO of PHINEO, explains the advantages of social engagement for companies and society and how cooperations between companies and NGOs can succeed.

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Juliane Hagedorn

Head of Consulting
+49 30 520 065 315
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