How to Accelerate Shared Value Partnerships in 2020
If you ask the question, “How do you create meaningful profit-purpose partnerships” to any pundit, expert, or any professional in the field of social impact, they will answer, “Create shared value.” This seems like a no-brainer, right? Any relationship – whether it’s a marriage, friendship or business partnership – should be built on having things in common and working toward the same goals (aka “shared values”).
Did you know that “Creating Shared Value” (CSV) is not just an obvious term for building partnerships, but also a business concept first introduced in a Harvard Business Review article Strategy & Society: The Link between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Since the article was published in 2006, the entire CSR industry – whether a company or nonprofit – has adopted the best practice and vernacular of creating shared value partnerships.
For the past decade or so, shared value to most of us has meant that we stand for the same social mission, care about the same issues, and commit to solving the same injustice. If a nonprofit organization and corporation aligned on this front, then they had a shared value and seemingly-good footing for building a longstanding partnership.
While this is still true today – companies support nonprofit organizations because their missions align – the definition of shared value is expanding. Here are the three facets of the 2020 version of shared value:
- Beyond the Company’s Mission: While shared values between the company and a nonprofit has been the gold standard when it comes to building partnerships, the company’s values are not the only element that matters. With the rise of the conscious consumer and purpose-driven employees, a company is now considering their “people’s values” in lock-step with their own. Super smart companies are aligning all three to complement and overlap with one another. Nonprofits must understand and have the ability to demonstrate that a company’s people care about their own mission – to establish what we’ll call “Shared People Values.” Can we just trademark the term and acronym now (SPVs) J?!
- Innovative Engagement: Companies have now seen that true employee engagement impacts the bottom line. Well-designed corporate responsibility programs and partnerships can:
- Reduce staff turnover by 50%
- Increase productivity by up to 13%
- Increase employee engagement by up to 7.5%
Source: Project ROI
Because of this, companies are turning to nonprofit organizations who have a variety of opportunities for innovative corporate engagement. From skills-based volunteering to gamification of mission engagement, nonprofits must create opportunities for corporate employees that extend beyond payroll deductions and seasonal volunteer hours. Companies hold a lot of stock in their employees – some may argue they are the most valuable part of a company. Creating shared value through must-have employee engagement opportunities is a necessity for nonprofits in 2020.
- SDG Implementation: If you’re asking what SDGs are, or think that they don’t apply to you – welcome to 2020 impact partnerships! The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are an urgent call for action by a global partnership of all countries – developed and developing. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the private sector to step up to the challenge stating, “Now is the time to mobilize the global business community as never before. The case is clear. Realizing the Sustainable Development Goals will improve the environment for doing business and building markets. Trillions of dollars in public and private funds are to be redirected towards the SDGs, creating huge opportunities for responsible companies to deliver solutions.”
Some companies are acting on their own accord to fulfill their values, like Visa bringing financial services to the underserved to support SDG goal #1 – “No Poverty”, and Qualcomm bringing wireless technology to underserved communities through Qualcomm Wireless Reach projects to support SDG Goal #9 – “Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.”
However, some of the most impactful outcomes are happening when corporations understand that nonprofits can help them implement and measure their effect on committed SDG goals. To put it more plainly, companies need nonprofits to fulfill their SDG commitments. When proving shared value, a nonprofit should consider restricted funding opportunities that help corporations directly tie their SDG pledge to the work that can help accomplish it. Check out companies like the Discovery Channel supporting clean oceans via Oceana, making waves toward SDG Goal #14 “Life Below Water.”
“Creating Shared Value” is still a fundamental element of social impact partnerships. But, finding shared value in a company’s people, with innovative mission engagement for its employees and definitive opportunities to take action on their SDGs – THAT is true value – the kind that will change the world.