Category Archives: corporate partnership

Building Private Sector Partnerships in 2017: Five things to know

change ahead

The U.S. has always provided significant leadership for how the world works together to transform issues of disease, poverty, disaster and pursue balanced economic progress.   On both sides of the political divide, Presidents have left their mark. From President Bush’s legacy of PEPFAR to Obama’s White House Office of Social Innovation, the U.S. has acted as a role model and provided much needed guidance on working together to progress a healthier socioeconomic environment for all to prosper in.

This has changed with the new administration and if you’re in charge of seeking funds from the private sector to fuel your international non-profit’s growth, there are five things you need to know that will impact your strategy and revenue projections over the coming years.

The U.S. global agenda is changing, nationalism is settling in.

The new U.S. Administration has very explicitly put forward a message of America First in both rhetoric and in activation of new policies that very clearly indicate we will no longer work WITH other nations on issues

The private sector understands that global business necessitates a more cooperative view but with the U.S. administration engaging in unpredictable and retaliatory behavior, only the very bravest of the private sector will choose to instigate new partnerships under these circumstances.

Assess first and then openly discuss with prospects where their needs and comfort level is in building public private partnerships at this time. Structure your proposals to follow their lead in building an investment strategy that works with their goals and concerns.

Issues around human rights on just about every level are now taking center stage as conservative politics dismantles social services and set up an environment of fear.

Look to conversation and programming inroads that address gender or racial inclusivity, access to healthcare, immigration or the refugee crisis. These issues cross international boundaries and will likely hold new opportunities for your organization to build into current programming.

Conversations will simply take longer.

The Fortune 500 are savvy and have been the first to create sophisticated CSR strategies, many using the concepts in Michael Porter’s Shared Value and over fifty  are following the lead set forth by the UN’s 2016 Sustainable Development Goals. However big investments are press worthy and companies invest at least in part for the publicity.

As companies think about what kind of reputation and favor they want to curry with both their customers and politicians (in charge of regulation), they will likely proceed with caution. Factor this into your cycle of development.

There will be breakout stars.

There are companies run by very smart and very outspoken individuals who may see this new shift in attitude as an opportunity to take a stand. Some, like Howard Schultz of Starbucks, have already shifted their own work policies impacting their funding efforts and others like Lyft, have contributed in the millions in direct response to the administration’s new policies.

Re-strategizing about the your organization’s message and POV in the face of such significant social change could create new conversation starters and funding opportunities.

Multi-nationals with multi-continent customer bases will continue giving at least at the same levels, outside of the U.S.

Some private sector companies choose to diversify their portfolio of giving and have significant funds set aside in other countries. It’s too soon to tell if this will shift giving on a macro-scale but it does suggest that in-country programs may experience opportunistic boosts in funding as overarching philanthropic strategy is re-evaluated.

This seismic shift was not foreseen nor is it necessarily welcome, but ignoring it will have long term financial consequences for those involved in international development.

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Priming the pump for mainstream investors

money

Kiva has launched a remarkable employee giving strategy that enterprise companies like Google, HP and Deutsche Bank have taken advantage of, and with strong executive leadership, these companies have delivered significant results.

CSR programs work towards lifting morale by demonstrating support for communities in need. Traditionally, these employee activities have included out-of-office hands-on volunteer activities on personal or professional time working directly with a charity’s beneficiaries.   Kiva’s Team crowdfunding platform has created a low-risk opportunity for companies to engage employees in the act of lending. Recipients are not charity cases and the employees need not leave the office.

 Not only are the results measurable and the funding recyclable, but the experiential influence of the lending process has an end-to-end productivity spectrum that leaves the employee feeling satisfied and wanting more.  

Premal Shah, President of KIVA led a panel at SOCAP last week that gave us more details.   Ranging from $25-$75, each of these companies created a program whereby their employees could lend the maximum value. Participation has been anywhere from 43-60% with HP clocking in at 120,000 employee participants to date.   Google even created an online visual map that shows in real time, where the loan originated and the country it went to.  

Here is a CSR program with unique and real potential to unlock awareness for the value of socially beneficial business platforms.

The founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman took the entire concept a step further by issuing a challenge in 2012 by providing $1M outside of his organization. Kiva was instructed to distribute certificates delivered through social media to introduce new would-be investors to the concept. Over the course of 14 months, not only was $994,000 returned to Reid but in incremental $1.2M got invested by newly indoctrinated investors and entrepreneurs received loans at 10x’s the normal rate.

Like all CSR efforts, the question is what comes next. Crowdfunding is changing financial markets and millennials are seeking to be a part of the solution.  Google invested in Oakland’s Impact HUB where Kiva Zip recipients can operate and Googlers can invest their time to assist in capacity building consultation.   CSR is a valuable company perk but where can these well-meaning efforts drive real market change?

Photo credit: Sharyn Morrow

floating garbage

ba-plastiki03_ph_0499860243A sailboat made of recycled plastic?  The Plastiki is the brainchild of David de Rothschild, a polar adventurer and scion to the Rothschild family heir.    It  is a 60 foot catamaran that is potentially an innovative wonder made of recycled plastic bottles and materials crafted from self-reinforced PET.   Intended for completion and launch “sometime next month” (or maybe next), the Plastiki is currently undergoing its build off Pier 31 in San Francisco.  The intent is to raise awareness for his foundation Adventure Ecology and the work it does via a sail from the U.S. to Australia which will take it through the little-known Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Sounds like an amazing endeavor with the potential to draw much-needed attention for the harm plastic garbage thrown into our oceans causes.  Yet, this journey has all the markings of a Richard Branson stunt, minus the “credibility” – which firmly moves back all those strides  greenies have been making in getting the green movement out of hippieville.

I am actually a big fan of Richard Branson, but it takes more than money to draw credible, actionable attention.  I absolutely “heart” David for his intentions, but I’d like to take this opportunity to propose a bit of context for his next well-intentioned and ambitious adventure:  1) develop a solid plan that meets the approval of experienced engineers – self-mockery on the liklihood that it will contribute to the aqua-junk doesn’t help focus attention on the cause of waste as resource. 2) establish credible partnerships that can help you spread the word –  companies (like P&G or Nestle) that buy into your strategy and can promote your success will actually create impact where the problem starts – at the corporate and consumer level.  3) Which goes to say that self-depracating humor is infinitely enjoyable, but avoid the trappings of a “stunt”.    The best story (and video) I read on David was found on a National Geographic Adventure blog dedicated to the Plastiki because it included lots of facts and established some solid grounding for the whole concept. Still the humor of the “we might not make it” (in the video) will only work for the cause – if truly, he makes it. (and I hope he does!)

partnering for our urban good

nyc-transportation-alternativesPSFK reported last week on NYC’s Transportation Alternatives program Nine for ’09.   NYCTA been around since 1973 and they’ve done some tremendous advocacy work in the areas of bicycling , walking and taking public transportation to reclaim New York’s streets from the automobile. They have already announced their September NYC Century Bike Tour and clearly they’ve got some talented design folks on their side.

The question I have is why haven’t they enlisted corporate support? Nike Considered Products, Trek bicycles, Timbukt2 bags would be perfect “urban” supporters –  to name a very few. All of these could develop some pretty cool high-profile retail promotional programs around what are already some really well-thought out events.

With a population’s increasing attention on what’s happening locally, for the city by the city, companies would do well to give-back in a way that  parallels what our overstretched and under-funded gov’t is attempting to do.    Tapping existing, smartly run and well-marketed programs is just the way to do that.