August , 2018
Corporate-NGO partnership brings CSR to the forefront of business
15:34 pm

Anwesha Chowdhury

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become an integral part of Indian public and private corporations following the assimilation of section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013. This means profitable companies are obliged to make a contribution towards the development of Indian society. The main role and objective of a corporate organisation is to create profit. Behind every business establishment, there are credibility of human resources, capital resources as well as environmental support coming from society and nature. When a corporate organisation is making profit out of these, it becomes their responsibility to protect these resources. Organisations like Tata, ITC and Birla Group have nurtured a philanthropic vision towards society from the early days of their business activities. Many organisations were not bothered about it. After the mandatisation by company act,corporate social responsibility has become an integral part of public and private corporations that are having net profit above Rs. 500 Crore. Act 135 states that “every company having net worth of rupees five hundred crore or more, or turnover of rupees one thousand crore or more or a net profit of rupees five crore or more during any financial year shall constitute a Corporate Social Responsibility Committee of the Board consisting of three or more directors, out of which at least one director shall be an independent director.”

Though it was started as a philanthropic approach, but with time the way of seeing social responsibility activity implemen-tation has changed. Organisations have realised that CSR is not merely philanthropy, but supporting socially beneficial projects that provide sustainable development, not only for society but also for the company itself. In a word, it becomes an approach to serve three bottom lines; that contributes economic, social and environmental assistance towards sustainable development that benefits the organisation too.

World Business Council for Sustainable Development describes CSR as “the continuing commitment by business to contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the community and society at large.”

Hindalco Industries Limited, a flagship company of Aditya Birla Group, has a mine in Samri, where they had established a socio economic developmental programme as CSR project in 2015. The developmental programme was on the local community that includes their workers residing at the same place as well. By providing school bus, proper agricultural irrigation, vocational and skill developmental programme for woman empowerment, Hilndalco has assured to give assistance to workers by developing their locality and community. It not only enhanced the image of the brand, but it also improved the employee relations. It leads the organisation to create developmental plans for their stakeholders, employees, audience, consumers or potential customers for reaching to a much broader area.

“CSR activity of a corporate organisation is a brand building tool as well. Through CSR, a corporate organisation builds credibility and creates trust. It helps them to create an image or brand as a socially responsible corporate”, as said by Mahul Bramha, author, communications and CSR expert.

But it is hard for an organisation and its CSR team to reach a remote locality and build strong communications. On this context, organisations are tying up with local NGOs. NGOs and corporate organisations both hold two different objectives; NGO works with the philanthropic idea whereas the corporate goes for a profit making strategies. In spite of this, presently a high notion of NGO-Corporate Partnership is seen.

NGOs face financial crisis because of their non-profitable and philanthropic nature. On the other side, corporate organisations are eager to put their 2% of net profit for developmental work, but they face communication gap in implementation when it is about reaching remote localities. A company can hire a limited number of employees for CSR activity, but when they need to reach more people from interiors of focused areas, it becomes quite difficult. A communication gap is yielded by cultural and dialectical differences. NGOs help in this context to reach in the local community, identify their needs, make them understand about the future prospects of projects, motivate them to join, listen to their issues and inform that to the corporate organisations. NGOs basically play a role of medium between corporate and beneficiaries towards a sustainable development of society.

So it can be said, CSR happens with the corporate-NGO partnership when two needs merged towards a similar purpose, here that is development. Corporate organisations have enough monetary funds and a fully planned strategy, though the plan comes withnarrow scope when the CSR team with limited numbers of employee is not enough to implicate that in a broader prospect as they haven’t a grasp of local culture and dialect of the focused area. Conversely NGOs are expert in working on a particular area with a particular genre to accomplish their philanthropic idea, but are lacking of financial support. So basically both are planning for development, and both are lacking of some issues. When two sectors are fulfilling each other’s problem, a partnership is born.

This has led to a new structure, ‘Corporate-NGO partnership’ for implementing a project on a large number of people. Mahul Bramha added, “Organisations need to partner with local communities as well as NGOs to broad base their reach and impact”. NGOs which are interested to tie up generally try to contact thecorporate organisations for funding a project. The process of the tie-ups are structured and organised in a proper manner. Identifying NGO is the most important step when they plan for creating tie-ups with one. Corporate finds and identifies NGOs according to pattern of their project. It depends on the duration of working of a NGO focused on local community, their grasp to know the community or their expatriation of the work in a particular genre. Sometimes identifying NGOis done by any personal reference or suggested by any communication consultant too.

A NGO can be defined according to its experience on work, expatriation, financial and work ability. When corporate tiesup with a more experienced NGO, sometime that NGO doesn’t work at the grassroots level. They tie up with the smaller NGOs who work in micro level. Suppose Corporate Organisation select an experienced NGO, which knows exactly how to work. But smaller NGOs who have more reach in micro level, but have not experiences, are guided by that bigger NGO. Rotary Literacy Mission, an established development sector works with different smaller NGOs working on a grassroots level. So when a corporate organisation will tie up withRotary Literacy Mission, they will fund them and according to their plan andRotary’s supervision, smaller NGOs would implicate those by communicating with masses directly. So it can be organised in a three way communication Structure.Through these three ways or two way communication structures, corporate-NGO partnership is hiking presently as it is fulfilling both needs. Corporate is becoming able to serve society and NGO is helping them to reach out more people, create an image and enhance it. At the last, people and the society, that matters to both.


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