CiYuan Newsletter | Q3 2012

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In This Issue


With the CiYuan Initiative coming to an end—at least in its existing form—by February 2013, we ponder why cross-sector partnerships are important. BSR Advisory Services Manager Adam Lane addresses some of the common challenges partners face in developing cross-sector partnerships and whether it is a worthwhile effort.

In this issue, we share news from our recent corporate–NGO training in Chengdu, as well as the launch event accompanying the release of our new report, Lessons of Localization: Adapting the Pro Bono Model into China.

We’d also like to invite you to participate in a global survey run by the Committee for Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, a BSR and CiYuan partner, as part of their Global Corporate Giving Initiative, an international effort to rally companies around developing one global standard on corporate giving.

Please forward this newsletter to your colleagues, and send any feedback or comments to Nina Zhou.


Why Do We Need Cross-Sector Partnerships?

By Adam Lane, Manager, BSR

As BSR recently discussed on our blog, developing cross-sector partnerships is tough. Many partners—both NGOs and companies—are not open to strategic partnerships, have limited experience or capacity managing partnerships, are not at the right time to partner, or do not have strong partnership-development skills amongst their staff.

NGOs know well that it takes a lot of time to identify, find, and meet potential partners, and when you find them they may already have a partner or may not have the budget or the internal support to work with new partners. Even then, the partner may be driven by ulterior motives (such as gaining favorable public relations or seeking to engage their employees) that can distract from the NGO’s core activities, or may not provide the necessary funding to cover the partnership development or administration time.

Often when NGOs apply for funding from companies, the grants are quite small or require meeting complicated registration or application requirements. And when NGOs attempt to link the partnership to a company’s core business and develop mutually beneficial partnerships rather than seek one-off funding, they often find the company not aligned internally to do so, lacking senior support, or unable to deliver on their initial promises.

Companies also often face similar challenges—finding capable NGOs that meet their legal or financial criteria for partnerships, have programs that align with corporate social or environmental values, have strong reporting skills, can provide and facilitate volunteering, have capable partnership-management staff, or understand how companies work in order to develop more strategic partnerships.

Is it all worth it? Should NGOs just focus on fundraising from other sources? BSR strongly believes it is worth it. As we wrote in an article for FYSE’s recent report on Social Enterprises in China (P34–35), there are huge opportunities from NGOs partnering with companies, which can help NGOs increase their impact and their scale—and we believe the same holds true for NGOs as for Social Enterprises.

Companies have a wealth of resources and skills, unique intellectual property, and tremendous marketing and branding reach. As BSR’s article shows, there are now numerous case studies in China of NGOs and Social Enterprises working with companies. But with years of experience in fostering and supporting such partnerships, we know how hard it can be and how long it can take.

We’ve identified the many challenges and helped both NGOs and companies overcome them. In 2013, BSR will be evolving the CiYuan initiative to not only continue to help companies and NGOs implement discreet partnerships, but also to explore ways to support cross-sector initiatives that involve a greater number of stakeholders and enhance the impact of social and environmental programs, collectively. We welcome others to join and support us.

Please send your views and comments to Adam Lane.

in Brief

Corporate-NGO Training in Chengdu

In July, the CiYuan Team delivered training to the business and NGO community in Chengdu on corporate–NGO partnerships. This was CiYuan’s third training on partnerships held outside Beijing. Participants learned about the fundamentals of corporate–NGO partnerships and strategic philanthropy as well as learnings from specific case studies from companies and NGOs engaged in partnerships.

For detailed information on the event please click here.  

in Brief

New CiYuan Report Launched in Beijing and London

New CiYuan Report Launched in Beijing and London

BSR’s CiYuan Initiative kicked off the first two in a series of four events on Lessons of Localization: Adapting International Models into China in Beijing and London on 16th and 17th August. Over 100 participants attended the Beijing event, and more than 60 members from the nonprofit sector attended the event in London. During both events, participants heard from partners in the five-way, cross-sector partnership between BSR, HP, local Chinese NGO Huizeren and the Narada Foundation on their experiences adapting the Taproot Foundation’s pro bono volunteering model in China.

Please visit CiYuan website to read the latest news. For more information on this corporate–NGO partnership and the localization process, please see our blog.


CiYuan Toolbox

Lessons of Localization

Our new report, Lessons of Localization: Adapting the Pro Bono Model into China, contains insights based on BSR’s facilitation of a five-way cross-sector partnership over the past 20 months that brought the Taproot Foundation’s Pro Bono model to China. The lessons cover the entire partnership development process including examining market potential, partnership design, partnership management, and program development. For more information, contact Adam Lane.

Lessons of Localization forms part of BSR’s suite of resources on corporate–NGO partnerships in China. This report shares findings from the second of CiYuan’s Corporate-NGO partnerships. The case study from the first partnership, Nike and China Youth Development Foundation Partner to Empower Chinese Youth, shared seven lessons for companies and NGOs, as well as lessons for third-party partnership facilitators.   



General and Strategy

Developing The Global Guide to What Counts  (CECP, English, PDF) 

China Corporate Foundation Development Report  (CFC & CCiA, Chinese, PDF)

Why Healthcare needs a Business Model?  (BSR, English, PDF) 

More Resources

On the Horizon

Upcoming Events

Workshop: Business and Human Rights (12 October, 2012 | London, U.K)

7th Annual Sustainable Supply Chain Summit (22–23 October, 2012 | London, U.K)

Strategic Alliances Conference (25–26 October, 2012 | New York, U.S)

ISO 26000 International Workshop (5–6 November, 2012 | Geneva, Switzerland)

Global Public Service Leaders Summit (28–30 November, 2012 | Singapore)

Webinar: Future Directions of Sustainable Supply Chains (4th December, 2012 | Webinar)