Creating public-private partnerships in corporate citizenship is rarely easy. Scorecards, conference calls, memoranda of understanding, and that’s before you’ve even begun the actual project. So why are CSR professionals seeking more partners, further collaboration, and more strategic alignment?
One of the biggest reasons is because stakeholders, especially consumers, are noticing who your partners are and examining the details of your work together. A 2010 Nonprofit Marketing Trend Tracker survey found that 60 percent of respondents indicated that they actively seek partnership details before supporting a cause and 75 percent of American consumers reported that they wanted to hear about the results of a corporate citizenship partnership, including the effect on the social issue or money raised for the cause.
In planning these partnerships, the biggest prerequisite – no matter where a partnership falls on the collaboration continuum – is that there needs to be a good fit between the cause and the business. In line with previous research, they found that high company-cause fit improves attitude towards the company-cause partnership and increases purchase intent of the company’s product.
In addition, a public-private partnership is arguably the most comprehensive, complex, and responsive form of stakeholder engagement. And stakeholder engagement matters to your company’s bottom line. Of course a firm’s financial performance can fluctuate for various reasons, including factors outside of its control, but good relations with stakeholders can help offset those risks and accelerate recovery from poor financial performance.
There is an expectation that corporate citizenship departments should be partnering with community partners or national non-governmental organizations on a wide-variety of environmental, social, and governance issues and opportunities. If you are reading this blog, you are probably working with a partner at this very moment.
So, how good is your partnership? Grab a pen and paper and answer the questions below. If you can provide tangibles examples of how you achieve these six criteria, then you probably have a successful public-private partnership:
- Do we identify specific projects for collaboration and supply the required internal resources?
- Do we exercise due diligence and formulate criteria for partner selection?
- Do we develop mutually acceptable procedures for collaboration?
- Do both parties define problems clearly and explore feasible and measurable solutions?
- Does the joint team focus on a manageable set of tasks that can be implemented quickly?
- Do we maintain confidentiality?
How did you do? Do you have some tangible examples of how you make public-private partnerships work?
 Gupta, S., & Pirsch, J. (2006). The Company-cause-customer Fit Decision in Cause-related Marketing. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 314-26.
 Choi, J., & Wang, H. (2009).Stakeholder Relations and the Persistence of Corporate Financial Performance. Strategic Management Journal, 895–907.
 Rondinelli, D. & London, T. (2003). How corporations and environmental groups cooperate: Assessing cross-sector alliances and collaborations. Academy of Management Executive, 61-76.