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Shared Value Key to NFP Sustainability

6 April 2016 at 9:37 pm
Ellie Cooper
Partnerships with shared value businesses could provide the Not for Profit sector with a “huge opportunity” for long-term funding, according to an industry expert.

Ellie Cooper | 6 April 2016 at 9:37 pm


Shared Value Key to NFP Sustainability
6 April 2016 at 9:37 pm

Partnerships with shared value businesses could provide the Not for Profit sector with a “huge opportunity” for long-term funding, according to an industry expert.

Executive Director of the Shared Value Project, Helen Steel, said that corporations could offer Not for Profits a greater pool of resources than other funding avenues.

“Traditional funding models, particularly from the philanthropic sector and from government are drying up,” Steel said.  

“There’s always going to be some funding from the philanthropic sector, but if you consider the amount of resources they have, compared to the business sector, there’s such a huge disparity.

“If real partnerships can happen, and the Not for Profit sector gains access to the resources that the corporate sector has, then there’s going to be such opportunity to produce sustainable programs and projects that actually help solve societal issues.”

She said that with the push for mergers and innovation in the overloaded charity sector, shared value could be part of the answer.

“The Not for Profit sector in Australia is pretty saturated and [everyone is] trying to compete for the same pool of funding,” she said.

“It’s going to be those organisations that understand the business opportunity and can take that conversation to a potential corporate partner… that are going to be able to sustain themselves.

“If they can work out that the collective objectives and opportunities on both sides then we’re going to see sustainable solutions to real problems that are long-term solutions.”

Australia is already seeing a trend of shared value businesses and Not for Profits creating partnerships.

“In the case studies we have in Australia, I can’t think of one [shared value business] that doesn’t involve some sort of partnership, so there’s certainly a trend happening,” Steel said.

Not for Profits also have a growing awareness of shared value, and World Vision Australia recently became a member of the Shared Value Project.

“World Vision, who’s very much a leader and has undergone quite a lot of change themselves as an organisation, are just seeing that they’re going to have to reach out to the corporate sector because that’s where the opportunity lies,” she said.

“And not just them… Save the Children has a dedicated shared value team now, traditionally they sought very little funding from the corporate sector and had very few partnerships, but now are really starting to focus on what the possibilities are.”

She also said that the trend was growing globally.

“Outside the Australian context, NGOs and Not for Profits are probably a bit further ahead in some ways when you look at United Way and some of the other large NGOs who have been going down this path for a while,” she said.

“More and more [NFPs] now are talking about new partnerships that they’re creating with different corporate partners.”

Steel said that collaborations between shared value businesses and Not for Profits are cohesive because of the mutual focus on social outcomes.

“That’s where the shared value actually happens, is when there is real collaboration between the two.

“I think that Not for Profits are often very well positioned to be suppliers for business, and Not for Profits have an enormous wealth of knowledge and resources in dealing with culturally sensitive markets.

“If the two can work out how to speak the same language and perhaps that’s the opportunity shared value provides then I think we’re going to see enormous progress in this space.”  
Business and Not for Profit partnerships will be a key aspect of the upcoming  2016 Shared Value Forum – Business: Partnering for Change on Wednesday 13 April.

Ellie Cooper  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

Ellie Cooper is a journalist covering the social sector.

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One comment

  • Phil Preston says:

    It’s great to see more discussion about the strategic connections between NFPs and Corporations. As Helen says, “speaking the same language” is a key challenge, and another is the level of creativity and innovation required to identify strategic opportunities. However we have been working hard on bringing processes and tools to companies and NFPs to support that challenge.


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