There are huge opportunities for the corporate sector to work with civil society, but there should be clear guidelines for good partnerships between the two.

For non-profits there are also some basic rules:

  • Do not assume that a donor is obliged to fund you. You need to attract funds from partners that share your objectives and hopefully values.
  • Build relationships based on trust and be transparent. This takes time and your Executive Director needs to find this time.
  • Ensure that your objectives dovetail with the objectives of your corporate partner and that any outcome indicators are agreed.
  • Don’t be swayed into mission drift because there is money involved.
  • Ensure that you have a good paper trail and can account for all funds.
  • Put effective thanking and reporting systems in place.
  • Stick to your contracts and report on time, both narrative and financial.
  • Recognise your corporate partner, both privately and publicly. Starting with a thank you letter, this can extend to a recognition event, a certificate of recognition, the naming of space, a plaque on a wall and publicity in your annual report and website.
  • Bring your partner into the organisation – share your achievements.
  • Continually monitor your programmes and projects, find the places you can improve and share this knowledge with your donor. Be proactive about evaluations – engage with the donor about what they would like to know in the process and share what you would like to learn.
  • Inform your partner immediately if things go wrong – you don’t want them to hear about this from other sources. Be open and honest – we are all human.
  • Understand that your champion in the company, such as the CSI officer, is accountable to his/her board. Your failures reflect on him/her. It is therefore important to maintain a transparent relationship and to answer questions that need to be asked.

AUTHOR: Shelagh Gastrow, Former Executive Director – Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement

RELATED ARTICLE: Guidelines for Corporates working with Civil Society