Many charities in Canada have grappled with the issue of how to deal with the businesses.  Should businesses just provide cash to charities?  Should charities enter into sponsorship arrangements with business?  How hard should charities work to engage with business?  Recently the New Zealand government (Department of Internal Affairs – Charities) prepared a report on how to think about the relationship between charities and business and how to improve mutual benefit.  “Best practice business/charity partnerships have shown that it is through strategic relationships between businesses and community organisations that both organisations and the wider community maximise benefit.  A strategic relationship occurs through the marrying of values of both organisations (business and community) and collectively working towards a common outcome or cause. Each party brings its own strengths to the relationship and both parties receive benefits.”  While New Zealand non-profit sector and law is not identical to Canada, the report provides some valuable insights to charities in Canada contemplating working with the business community.

Here is the executive summary:

The intent of the research was to build a greater understanding of current business community investment and motivations for engagement with community organisations to:

-Improve the effectiveness of business/community organisation collaboration and partnership
-Encourage improved mutual value and benefit.

This report has been written utilising the research findings, the workshop feedback and recently completed research “The Social Role of Business” produced by the Sustainable Business Council, “Giving is Good” by BNI, information from Business in the Community UK and the London Benchmarking Group 2012 Report.

The intent of this report is to provide resource material that will improve the effectiveness of business and community organisations partnerships and maximise the benefits to both parties. The report has five sections covering the following:

1. Introduction
Background and context.

2. Summary of the Findings
This section draws primarily on the research findings and workshop discussions to give a view of businesses’ current practices, needs, motivations and experience around supporting community organisations.

3. Challenges and Opportunities for Community Organisations
This section provides guidance and suggestions for improving the frequency and efficacy of relationships between businesses and community organisations.

4. ReSources and helpful tips
This section includes practical resources created from the research to support business and community partnerships.

5. Inspiring Communities’ Recommendations
This section sets out Inspiring Communities’ recommendations from the workshops and research findings, on how to contribute to optimising the collaboration and partnership between business and community organisations.
The research found that most businesses engaged with community organisations and consider that “It’s the right thing to do.” This traditional approach provides limited benefit to both the charity and business. Businesses are active and interested in supporting community organisations, and are seeking opportunities that work for them.