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Building Sustainable Partnerships Between Business and Non-Profits

Leslie Back | Thursday July 15th, 2010 | 3 Comments

By Leslie Back

Success is a product of cooperation. Opportunity lies in networking, communication, interaction and exchange; isolation and hyper-individualism accomplish little. Fortunately, every day there are more and more proud examples of cooperative efforts made in the name of environment & conservation. Bridges are going up, connecting groups that once were divided by philosophical differences, lifestyle choices and their shoes.

The greatest cooperative efforts in recent years have been between business and non-profit sectors. Grassroots environmental organizations, traditionally stereotyped as cargo pants-wearing, angry protests with Birkenstocks, have found friendly allies in corporate execs clad in pinstriped suits and Italian leather shoes. Okay, I am joking about the shoes, but the connections are real. And it is high time.

In his recent book Strategy for Sustainability, Adam Werbach writes at length about the importance of networking in order to meet our environmental and social responsibility goals. Rightly put, no single community, group, business, or nation can meet or solve our challenges alone. Cooperation must rule the day. Werbach himself is a good example of this interconnection. Having left the Sierra Club after several years, he formed his own group, Act Now, to connect with the very groups he once protested. Today, as a strategy consultant for Saatchi and Saatchi S, some of those same groups are his clients, clients who no doubt benefit from his years of experience as a grassroots organizer. I wonder if he wears Birkenstocks to the meetings?

Businesses have always allied with non-profits for fundraisers and public donations, for the betterment of the business and the charity. A great example of such a partnership is the National Parks Project through Nature Valley (a General Mills Company). Funds raised go to serve the national parks, particularly through cooperation with the National Parks Conservation Association.

But increasingly today we also see the non-profits guiding the businesses, aiding them with their efforts to be green and lean. For instance, the World Wildlife Fund is now actively involved in training business executives for sustainability through its Sustainability Training Program. And, of course, no one seems to be as good at cooperation as the Environmental Defense Fund. Their comprehensive Innovation Exchange guides businesses on where and how to help their businesses and the planet. On second thought, Ceres might give EDF a run for their money. Founded in 1989, the group’s sole mission is to integrate sustainability into capital markets for the betterment of all. Ceres realized, perhaps years before others, that true sustainability would require the effort and cooperation of private and public business and that capitalism and environmentalism are not mutually exclusive.

And of course, not to be overlooked, are the professional and development organizations that organize to support good businesses and the profession of sustainability. There are too many to name here but who can overlook the awesome B Corporation, officially recognized by 2 of 50 states, whereby businesses can become certified as change agents, using the power of business for greater social and environmental good. And there are groups such as ISSP, International Society of Sustainability Professionals, which allows not only for professional development among sustainability professionals, but networking and sharing of best practices as well.

The increasing interaction between business and non-profit, with a mutual interest in a greener and more sustainable world, gives reason for hope and excitement. A bridge has been built and is becoming stronger. Ideas are being shared and efforts multiplied through cooperative efforts. Now, if we can just bridge that little aisle in Congress? If Greenpeace and McDonald’s can work together surely there is hope for Democrats and the Republicans!


Leslie is a first-year Sustainable MBA student at Green Mountain College. Study interests include environmental conservation, social responsibility and the power of corporate and non-profit partnerships to bring about positive change. Other areas of interest include social media in sustainable marketing and public policy. She holds an MA in Organizational Management and a BS in Leisure Management. On the rare occasions when she is not studying, she enjoys writing, reading, running, nature walks and yoga.  She hopes to use her skills, talents and education to make a positive impact with an environmentally and socially conscious organization.



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  • Wingnut


    You DO see the pyramid scheme symbol on the back of the USA one dollar bill, right? You DO see the servitude infestation in capitalism, right? And do you see the “pay up or lose your wellbeing” Chicago mob-like felony extortion widespread within capitalism? Do you see the “join or starve” felony extortion done to the 18 year olds… by this ugly competer's church called capitalism? See how forcing competer's religions onto 18 year olds… kills membership in the cooperator's church (Christianity/socialism)?? Do you understand that AmWay (American Way) (New World Order) got “the exclusive” (legal tender) on the TYPE of survival coupons (money) accepted in supply depots (stores) and leverages 18 year olds into the organization via that felony activity as well? (It puts AmWay-coupon slaving requirements called price tags… on all the survival goods). Do you understand how farmyard pyramids work… from your childhood?? Remember?? Upper 1/3 are “heads in the clouds” while the kids on the bottom ALWAYS GET HURT from the weight of the world's knees in their backs? Still with me? Do you see anything illegal, immoral, or just plain sick… in any of this pyramid scheme's activities?

    Us American Christian socialists are still patiently awaiting the natural fall of the pyramid-o-servitude, or the busting of the free marketeers felony… by the USA Dept of Justice. Us Christians are VERY CLOSE to issuing a cease and desist order until the servitude and inequality goes away… which means it turns into a commune. Commune is a word we LOVE when used in the word “community”… but its one the caps HATE when used in the term “commune-ism”. Go fig. PROGRAMMED!!

    Do a Google IMAGE SEARCH for 'pyramid of capitalist' to see a full color picture made way back in 1911, when capitalism was first discovered to be a con/sham instigated by the Free Masons/Illuminati. Folks sure bought into the thing… hook, line, and sinker just the same. The caps didn't even check if a string was attached! Now THAT'S easy fishing, eh?

    Time to level the felony pyramid scheme called capitalism. Abolish economies and ownershipism worldwide, and hurry. Economies just cause rat-racing, and rat-racing causes felony pyramiding. BUST IT, America! Look to the USA military supply/survival system… (and the USA public library system) for socialism and morals done right. Equal, owner-less, money-less, bill-less, timecard-less, and concerned with growth of value-criteria OTHER THAN money-value. Quit doing monetary discrimination immediately, and make it illegal. There are MANY measurement criteria of “value”… not just dollars. Try morals, efficiency, discrimination-levels, repairability, etc etc. Economies are cancerous tumors, and to cheer for their growth… is just insane. Profiting causes inflation, so if caps LIKE inflation, and if they LIKE a terrible time in afterlife when they meet the planet's ORIGINAL OWNER before caps tried to squat it all with ownershipism, then keep it up with the felony pyramiding. I dare you. While us Christians are finally bulldozing that pyramid scheme back to level, lets make servitude and “join or starve” (get a job or die) illegal in the USA, and lets level the architecture seen in USA courtrooms, too. Right now, USA courtrooms are church simulators or “fear chambers”, by special design. Sick.

    Isn't that back-of-the-dollar pyramid… a Columbian freemason symbol? And WHERE is the USA gov located? District of Columbia? (Not even part of the USA!) How much more blatant can ya get? The “Fed” runs a pyramid scheme called the free marketeers. If you're using the “federal reserve note” certificates, or using no-other-living-thing-on-the-planet entitles of ownership, you're bought into a servitude/slavery con/sham… called capitalism. Pyramiding 101.

    Larry “Wingnut” Wendlandt
    MaStars – Mothers Against Stuff That Ain't Right
    Bessemer MI USA

    • nickaster

      Now that was entertaining! Thanks wingnut

  • Pingback: Who Really Wins at Cause Marketing? The Non-Profit or the Business? | Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit()

  • Pingback: Who Really Wins at #Cause #Marketing? The #Non-#Profit or the Business? Via Triple Pundit. By Leslie Back Connecting Non Profits, Inc.()

  • Black

    Interesting comments…..**smile**

    Great article, Leslie.  Well written and informative.