Finding & Supporting New Models of Collaboration for Good

Following up on last week’s blog post about how, in the midst of the economic downturn, the best corporate citizens built more successful ways of working with governments and NGOs, we now look at how to help organizations establish them by shining a light on real-world examples and providing a platform for connecting with potential partners.

At the 2011 COMMIT!Forum we highlighted several new models of collaboration. Two of my personal favorites were the work done by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Compass Group to alleviate slave-like working conditions for migrant workers in Florida and that of Western Union and USAID to establish an African Diaspora Marketplace to harness the wealth and entrepreneurialism of this community to jump-start new businesses in Africa itself. These initiatives exemplify the successful practices discussed in the previous blog post. "Challenge campaigns" and "prizes," like the COMMIT!Campaign and Clinton Global Initiative, have become increasingly popular ways of calling companies to make new "commitments" to changing the world. In reflecting on these best practices, we can also see some ways to restructure "challenge campaigns" to be more effective.
•   Relish self-interest. When Bono said he hoped companies participating in his Product (RED) campaign would make huge profits, he faced a firestorm of criticism especially from the non-profit sector. While no one benefits from unconstrained avarice, we see more, not less benefit for target communities when the business has an enduring self-interest in solving the problem at hand. The solution is not to strip away self-interest, but to frame the problem in a way that a corporate partner can engage for the long-term. In the case of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Compass Group, the Coalition could have asked Compass to just write a check. Instead, it showed Compass that it had a human and a brand interest in improving working conditions and in driving commitment through its supply chain.
•   Insist on mutual accountability. We've made it a requirement that participants in the COMMIT!Campaign a) publicly state a goal, and b) commit to on-going coverage of the commitment in CR Magazine. Other challenge campaigns should use similar models to reinforce a culture of measurement and accountability between commitment partners.
To help further the development of these new models of collaboration, we’ve restructured the COMMIT!Campaign for 2012. Through the Campaign, governments, and NGOs can publicly articulate “commitments” -- specific programs with measurable results for which they need corporate support -- and we’ll work with them to find the right corporate sponsors. We'll also track and report progress from the 2011 and 2012 Campaigns in CR Magazine. If you have a worthy cause that you’d like to see become part of the Campaign, sign on here.
We also want your input on how to create even stronger forms of collaboration:
•        What do you think makes for the best kind of NGO-government-company collaboration?
•        Do you have examples where things have gone dramatically right or dramatically wrong?
•        What kinds of people need to be in leadership positions on all sides?
•        How can we increase involvement on all sides?
The bad news is that the world continues to struggle through a tough economic climate. The good news is that because of that tough climate, creative and inspired people are not just making do, but finding ways to excel. Budget deficits have driven governments and NGOs to find corporate partners. Trust deficits mean businesses are looking to good works to build their brands. Together, like-minded people combine their financial, trust, and acumen assets to make partnerships that are all the stronger because of the “forced”collaboration.
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The course was great! Great value and great insights into collaborating with various partners in multiple situations. It really change my thought process and how I view situations with our clients and stakeholders. - CollaborateUp Academy Participant
"Building up the capacity and capability of nonprofits to make a difference in the world is a core part of the Office Depot Foundation's mission. CollaborateUp had a really big impact on the nonprofits we support, giving them tools and insights they can use immediately." - Mary Wong
“Even with a diverse set of stakeholders and a very limited timeframe, the CollaborateUp Formula allowed us cut through a complex set of issues and develop a concrete and pragmatic proposal for tackling a very tough problem. Richard Crespin is exactly what you want in a facilitator, someone able to bring people together to recognize their shared goals and the best ways to achieve them.” - Amit Ronen Director, George Washington University Solar Institute
I soon discovered that it doesn’t really matter whether your introduction to CollaborateUp is through an issue solving workshop, or at an event as Richard brings all the chaos together with his savvy charm and good humour - the most important thing is that you get to engage and work with these great folks! My biggest take out over the past five years of being a part of their world – collaboration is a process and you’re not going to get very far unless you know what problem you’re all trying to solve together. The CollaborateUp framework helps by asking simple questions to help reveal the big answers. - Cate O’Kane, Founder, &co partnership consultancy
Extremely practical and extremely easy to implement once you have an understanding of the steps and the formula and the requirements of the process. - CollaborateUp Academy Participant
"The CollaborateUp Workshop gave our delegates a set of tools they can use immediately to collaborate more effectively across multiple departments and organizations." - Erika Lopez, Global Impact
The course actually aids with more than just collaboration - it helps drive thinking into issue clarification, meeting handling and setting up, communicating with stakeholders. I loved it! - CollaborateUp Academy Participant