Are the non-profit and private sectors extracting the most value they can out of their relationships?

Author: Natu Hadish

As someone who is passionate about the amazing work of charities, the current state of affairs is disturbing. For all their sense of purpose, charities are being suffocated by policies which limit their access to resources. This means they are forced to look at alternative means of support Contrastingly, the private sector boasts a wealth of resources and arguably lacks a greater sense of purpose within its institutions.

This presents a simple question: Are the non-profit and private sectors extracting the most value they can out of their relationships? In short, the answer is no.

I aim to shed some light on this issue and hope to contribute to a wider dialogue on how we can extract more value from these relationships and ultimately deliver impact.

It seems fair to assume that the ultimate purpose of these relationships serves to mutually benefit both causes and businesses. A business’ greatest resource is its people, therefore, allowing employees to work with causes provides the grounds for mutual benefit. As previously mentioned, opportunities for charities to access resources are becoming few and far between, so this presents a new and interesting avenue to explore.

Businesses can benefit from the opportunity to attach themselves to a good cause and utilise charities as an avenue of defining their greater corporate identity. The knock-on effect is instilling a sense of trust among current and potential customers, or for the cynics, simply better PR.

In an environment where corporates are increasingly being held accountable in the same way an individual might, it is equally important that businesses keep their ‘fingers on the pulse’ regarding how their employees truly feel and the company’s larger role in society. The correlation between employee engagement and greater success is becoming increasingly obvious. Working with charities allows employees to feel they are serving a greater purpose through their employer.

It’s clear to see that charities can benefit from the vast resources available in the private sector, but the previous question of whether these benefits are being maximised remains to be answered. The current model for the relations between businesses and charities manifests in the form of direct partnerships, in which businesses give their employees an opportunity to contribute to a chosen charity partner through team activities. I feel there is an inherent lack of people-focus in this current model, despite its ability to extrapolate some benefits for all parties.

With this in mind, one wonders whether the current model for corporate/charity relations provides the most effective method of delivering impact for all stakeholders? Perhaps instilling individual autonomy as the fundamental principle in this model would allow charities and businesses to extract more value.

So, this begs the question… How do we best serve the interests of the people involved? How can we institutionalise this relationship as one in which autonomy of the individual is leveraged to maximise the overall impact?

Ethical Angel offers a simple, tech-based solution to this problem by empowering individuals within the private sector to identify and contribute to projects they are passionate about. The fundamental belief is that every employee has unique skills and interests that they can use to help make the world a better place. Businesses can encourage employees to take ownership of their own development by connecting with causes that are close to their heart. Charities can benefit from access to a network of skilled volunteers at no cost or strain on their current resources.

There is an increasing amount of evidence to suggest that investing in employees is likely to benefit businesses at the bottom line. There are truly no bounds in the potential to deliver impact in and outside the office, by giving people the opportunity to share and develop their skills with causes. Employees can proverbially kill two birds with one stone by sharing and developing their skills whilst serving a greater sense of purpose in a world where work/life balance is being reframed as work/life integration.

A pillar of Kantian ethics states that we ought to…

‘act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always the same time as an end and never simply as a means.’