In order to answer the question “How NGOs can become business partners”, a half-day event was organized by the Robinson Crusoe Foundation on the 14th of June 2019 in Warsaw, Poland. The event brought together participants from the NGO sector.
The representatives from nine NGOs, which support youth on a regular basis, learned about the various tools and information provided under the CoOp-Corporate to Operate project to boost NGO-SME cooperation in Poland and beyond. Practical tools like the Fundraising Ready Tools and the CoOp Training Toolkit caught the participants interest and various questions were asked on how to increase one’s fundraising potential with the business sector.
A lively discussion on the fears and challenges NGOs see when working with SMEs, but also larger companies, started which was further supported by information from Polish transnational training participants who provided workshops to 33 NGO representatives. The predominate problem of NGOs is that they are not aware of the added value they can bring to companies when implementing CSR projects together. Even worse, some NGOs view fundraising from the business sector as “begging”, only seeing it as an one-sided value proposition.
Moreover, SMEs also do not seem to always understand the benefit of engaging in a partnership with NGOs to implement together CSR projects to support youth. Therefore, there is a clear need to educate both the NGO and the SME sector on the benefits that can be gained from cross-sector partnerships. This discussion ended up with a list of recommendations that were than later incorporated into the CoOp Polish policy brief on how to increase cross-sector cooperation to support youth.
The meeting also provided the opportunity to share with the NGO representatives some online tools, e.g. online polls and kahoot, than can be used in possible meetings with companies. Further, a structure for presentations was presented which allows to make impactful presentations.
Overall , the meeting showed the need for more meetings between NGO representatives to share and learn from each other on fundraising. Sharing good practices seems to be essential for many to develop the courage to go out and approach SMEs on their own.