Melanie Vella / LinkedIn

Sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG) Solutionist Melanie Vella has highlighted a number of key elements that need to be addressed in order for businesses and NGOs to have more impactful partnerships.

Her reflections came after a session she co-hosted with Louisa Attard for Academy of Givers members last week, where some of the “hard truths” about businesses and NGOs partnerships were pointed out.

Dr Vella is Founder of Tides Rising, a venture she started in 2020 with the aim of assisting companies in progressing their sustainability goals on a project basis or as an outsourced team member. She has spent the last 10 years working on sustainability, communications, and social and environmental impact.

In her post, Dr Vella stated that there needs to be greater collaboration between NGOs doing the same thing, as this could lead to “longer term investment and more impactful projects being supported by companies.”

“NGOs could join forces to bid for funds together and reach the impact they want to have,” she added.

In addition to this, she also said that NGOs cannot be asked to pitch for a company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) as if they are “sending a quote to clients.” Such a task takes plenty of administration time that would effectively steal resources from focusing on the critical tasks the NGOs want to tackle.

Additionally, Dr Vella also stated that businesses must find a way to cover NGOs’ salaries, noting that this is a topic of “hot debate” between different entities.

“Ultimately, if we want things to be done effectively, we need to have people with the right experience and expertise, and we need to be willing to pay for it,” she explained.

In a bid to tackle these issues, Dr Vella pinpointed three possible solutions.

Firstly, she remarked that business and NGOs need to manage their expectations from the very start of their partnership, particularly by clarifying the needs of both sides, as well as the outcomes and impact they are trying to achieve.

She also stated that companies and NGOs need to align their purpose.

“When both sides are clear on their why and the impact they want to have together, the partnership is more integral to the business and is more likely to retain commitment and achieve impact,” Dr Vella continued.

Lastly, Dr Vella also noted that partnerships mainly have substance when a company “invests in a longer-term relationship” where both entities can “grow their impact together.” In this manner, employees can get involved in the NGO’s mission, not treating the partnership as “one-off CSR employee events that have little lasting impact for both sides,” she added.

“This conversation unearthed some core truths that both sides needed to hear and understand. But its only just the beginning,” Dr Vella said, before encouraging others to attend the For Impact Fair on 12th March to learn more about NGO-business partnerships.

Featured Image:

Sustainability and ESG Solutionist Melanie Vella / LinkedIn

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