CiYuan Newsletter | Q1 2013

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In This Issue


In this issue, CiYuan Manager, Brooke Avory, reflects on three-years of the CiYuan Initiative and the challenges of corporate-NGO partnerships in China. We also share progress from our pilot project with SAP and four nonprofits in Shanghai on how nonprofits can use IT to enhance their organizational management and efficiency.

BSR would like to warmly thank all its partners and members of the corporate, foundation, and nonprofit communities who have supported us in CiYuan over the past three years. We look forward to continuing to work with you in the growing area of cross-sector collaboration in China and globally, and sharing with you BSR’s ongoing work in this space.

In May, we’ll also bring you a special edition of the newsletter which pulls together all of CiYuan’s case studies and tools on corporate-NGO partnerships and foundation development.

We welcome you to forward this newsletter to your colleagues, and send any feedback or comments to Brooke Avory.  


Reflections on Corporate-NGO Partnership Challenges in China

By Brooke Avory, CiYuan Manager, BSR 

As we celebrated the CiYuan Initiative’s three-year birthday last month, we reflected on some of the commonly faced challenges in corporate-NGO partnerships, and other efforts to promote cross-sector partnerships in China during this time.

In mid-March, at BSR’s event, “Capacity Building & Collaboration to Drive Social Investment in China: Reflections from the CiYuan Initiative”, we invited a panel of experts from the Chinese foundation, nonprofit and corporate sectors to discuss the roles of each actor in the future of corporate-NGO partnerships. As the number of social and environmental challenges in China is growing, the panelists believed that regardless of whether they are working in company-to-nonprofit, foundation-to-media, or company-to-company partnerships, collaboration will be increasingly necessary to effect faster and more effective change in China.

In the third session at the event, we invited home renovation company, B&Q, and China’s oldest environmental nonprofit, Friends of Nature, to share experiences from their partnership to engage B&Q’s customers and employees in environmental awareness raising. During the session’s opening remarks, B&Q’s North China Director, Ludovic Quentin, spoke to an ongoing challenge facing partnerships: the fundamental difference in corporate and nonprofit values. “For us, educating consumers on environmentally friendly products and producing a unique product with these elements at a competitive price is our major challenge. For nonprofits, with different drivers and objectives to companies, the challenge then becomes balancing these differences—and this is what both partners must overcome to build a successful partnership”.

Over the past three years we have seen other efforts emerge to spur and support cross-sector partnerships in China, including programs, research and tools to help partners address different challenges of partnering. The EU-funded Corporate-NGO Partnerships for Sustainable Development Project developed a Corporate Communications Handbook for NGOs which provides nonprofits with guidance on the steps, channels and tips to overcome challenges commonly faced in communicating with companies. NGO2.0’s NGO Map, provides users with an interactive map to identify nonprofits working in specific thematic areas and corporate social responsibility programs in different locations around China. Other resources such as “The Future of CSR and NGO Partnerships” report written by Milward Brown and Ogilvy, share findings from an online survey of over 150 companies and nonprofits on the challenges they face in establishing partnerships.

Throughout April, the CiYuan Initiative will be posting case studies from its corporate-NGO and foundation pilot projects online. These case studies include insights, lessons learned and tips for both companies and nonprofits and third-party facilitators in designing, facilitating or evaluating partnerships. We look forward to continuing to work with companies and nonprofits on strategic partnership development in China.

Please send us your views and comments on the challenges of corporate-NGO partnerships to Brooke Avory

in Brief

BSR & SAP Engage NGOs in Beijing and Shanghai on Technology & Organizational Efficiency

BSR-SAP focus group

In February, BSR, SAP and four nonprofits in Shanghai completed a six-way corporate-NGO partnership, the CiYuan Initiative’s fourth demonstration project. The partnership focused on an eight-week needs assessment conducted by SAP’s volunteer team to analyze non-profits are using IT to manage their donation, financial, human resources and programmatic information.

Over the last quarter, BSR and SAP organized two focus groups in Beijing and Shanghai to share the findings from the needs assessments and gather feedback from the wider nonprofit community on how nonprofits can use IT to enhance their organizational efficiency. The two focus groups attracted 36 participants from 29 non-profits. At the conclusion of the consultation phase we worked with SAP to prepare a final report which provides recommendations for tools and resources nonprofits can use to support their e-information management. Our case study, available online soon, also showcases the outcomes and learnings from this collaboration.

in Brief

BSR holds 3-Year Birthday Celebration for its CiYuan Initiative

BSR Closing Event

On March 19th, BSR held an event called “Capacity Building & Collaboration to Drive Social Investment in China: Reflections from the CiYuan Initiative” in recognition of the program’s three-year birthday. The half-day event attracted 50 individuals from the business community, local and foreign foundations, NGOs and media who came to learn about how CiYuan has been driving social impact through its work with foundations, NGOs and through corporate-NGO partnerships; and to hear from sector leaders on the future of “cross-sector collaborations” in China.

Please visit CiYuan's website to read more news.  

CiYuan Toolbox

Evaluation of China Foundation Development Handbook

At the CiYuan Initiative’s three-year birthday event on March 19th, BSR launched an evaluation of its China Foundation Development Handbook. The report examines how the Handbook has been used by 50 foundations and a mixture of other organizations since its release in December 2011. The five key findings from the evaluation reveal:

  • Project Management” and “Organization Management” are the most popular chapters among Handbook users;
  • 80% of foundations learnt new information from the Handbook;
  • 76.8% of foundations used the Handbook as a tool to help them navigate internal problems either operational or strategic;
  • 1/3 of foundations used the Handbook for internal staff training or used part of the content to guide internal discussions or at meetings; and
  • 18% of Handbook users recommended the Handbook to other partners including foundations, NGOs and companies.

The evaluation report in Chinese is available for download here.  


2012 NGO Transparency Index (CCDIC, Chinese)

Corporate Equality Index 2013 (Human Right Campaign, English)

Corporate Strategic Philanthropy (CFC, Chinese)

More Resources

On the Horizon

Upcoming Events

Woman in Social Enterprise Conference (5 May, 2013 | Beijing, China)

Woman’s Leadership Conference (14-15 May, 2013 | New York, US)

GRI's Global Conference on Sustainability and Reporting: Leadership event of 2013 (22 - 24 May, 2013 | Chicago, IL)

3rd China Sustainability and CSR Summit 2013 (23 – 24 May, 2013 | Beijing, China)