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Corporate responsibility programmes can be more efficient with the participation of non-governmental organizations

January 18, 2012, 0:00 2902 Author: Nikolay Kolodjazny, translated by Yulia Alekseyenko ngo.zp.ua Non-governmental organizations can influence the forming and implementation of business corporate social (public) responsibility programmes actively. The participants of the Second Regional Forum were trying to find the efficient ways of such influence

Non-governmental organizations can influence the forming and implementation of business corporate social responsibility programmes so that these programmes were implemented efficiently and benefited their addressees maximally. But to complete this task the representatives of the third sector should themselves understand the needs of business, the ways to implement this usefulness in their projects and to present it persuasively to potential donators and partners. While discussing the presentations of hands-on experience, taking part in collective brainstorming and workshops the participants of the Second Regional Inter-sector Partnership Forum (which took place in Zaporozhye on December, 22, 2011) were imbuing their minds with the ways how to do this efficiently. “Imbuing” is the precise word – it was proved by both the positive interactive atmosphere of the forum and the numerous comments of its participants.

If a large number of creative, active and positively-minded people who are doing their best to change this world for better are gathered together and given a topic for discussion and sharing their experience and ideas, and if a bit of positive emotions and creativity is added one will get an event which will bring its participants a great charge of energy, knowledge and useful contacts. This is how The Second Regional Inter-sector Partnership Forum could be briefly described. But we are going to tell you everything in order.

Co-operative work of power, business and non-governmental organizations representatives had started before the beginning of the Forum itself. The representatives of the three sectors had to decorate “the inter-sector partnership Christmas tree” (as the organizers called it). The task had been successfully completed and thus creative and active work of the Forum had begun.

In her first presentation Natalia Seliukova, the NGO “UkrProstir” director, told about the results of the survey that was held in preparation for the Forum among the representatives of Zaporozhye region power, business and non-governmental organizations. The results of the survey demonstrated that these three groups of the respondents have quite different understanding of what corporate social responsibility means. The representatives of power and business itself first of all regard it as financial support of disadvantaged people, while the NGO representatives see the CSR programmes as a way to implement social projects and help in community development. It’s interesting to know that only 50 per cent of the respondents consider that tax benefits are necessary to support CSR, the other 50 per cent answered that they needed reliable information about the sphere where they could make their socially responsible actions and organizational yelp in their implementation.

“Kyivstar” PR manager Alla Lavrentyeva introduced an extremely interesting case of her company SCO programmes. Among other things the company offers its professional help to the society (for example, Internet safety for children), programmes of corporate charity and corporate volunteering. Answering the participants’ questions Alla said that the company usually consults the non-governmental organizations while planning the areas of their programmes, as well as the non-governmental organizations turn to the company with their offers.

The “Happy Child” Fund President Albert Pavlov’s emotional report was dedicated to the problems of modern Ukrainian charity. Emotional because, as Albert said, “tears are welling when you see how huge amounts of money which are so necessary for children are almost wasted”. The leader of one of the most successful and prestigious charity funds in Zaporozhye told about many negative moments which average philanthropists prefer not to notice just because they don’t want to delve into the details of what they donate and to whom they address their help. For example, Albert told about boarding schools pupils who are literally fed up with their sweet presents, so they sell their sweets and buy alcohol and cigarettes instead. Or there are individual persons who demonstrate improper use of money gathered for a sick child treatment. “We are trying to make the organizations who occasionally visit boarding schools understand that in fact children don’t need a regular box of candies or a TV-set. They need to be developed, educated and adapted to independent life. But unfortunately we are very seldom heard, because it is easier for the donator to bring a standard present and to make a TV show than to be interested in what a child really needs”, - Albert Pavlov shared his long-term experience. One more matter which the charity fund president had dedicated his attention to was why large amounts of budget money are spent on keeping children in children’s homes and boarding schools, but there is no money to prevent them from founding themselves in such institutions, to preserve the opportunity for them to live in full families. “I will give you an example – according to the official data, one of the boarding schools spends a fantastic sum on heating per month– 800 hryvnyas ($ 100) per child. And the social department which deals with the district problem families has no money for petrol to visit its wards. It’s an absurd situation”, - Albert Pavlov was speaking about the matters that worried him most.

The Chairman of the “Happy Child” Fund, Iryna Gavrysheva supported her colleague. “It’s high time for non-governmental organizations to realize that their function is not limited by gathering money to help those who need help, but they should also be experts and professionals in social matters. Businessmen have got funds which they are ready to spend on charity but they have no time to consider the problems carefully. And we do have knowledge and experience, so we must work together”.

The Donetsk municipal charity fund “Dobrota” (Kindness) President Yakov Rogalin’s speech was expectedly filled with energy and creative approach. Yakov Rogalin told about the experience of involving business into the implementation of social projects. “Stop thinking exclusively of what you need, and start thinking about what might interest business in your projects, and how this interest can be sold”, - one of the best expert practitioners draw his listener’s attention to this point more than once. Yakov Rogalin’s experience and professionalism are recognized not only in Ukraine but in the world as well. The speaker used concrete examples to illustrate the principles and approaches which can dramatically increase the success of any address to business for co-operation. “Every company has its interests, and you have to fit these corporate interests, and then you will not only help to implement the CSR programmes, but initiate them yourselves”, “business shouldn’t learn about your projects from you, but from TV-news, newspapers, from posters and billboards”, - the guest shared these proven and efficient steps with his audience that was listening to his words with sincere interest and enthusiasm.

The participants’ co-operative work during the “world cafe” turned to be impetuous and full of emotions. The result of the discussion appeared to be quite interesting. The ideas about how the CSR programmes implementation can be useful for business had much in common – they included company’s reputation and publicity improvement, involvement of human resources. And all the three groups had absolutely the same point of view when asked whether the CSR programmes should be implemented in partnership and who those partners should be. All the three groups consider that the CSR programmes will be more efficiently implemented when a non-governmental organization which deals with this or that problem takes part in this process.

The participants had different vision of the current problems that can be solved with the help of CSR programmes. Among the suggested areas there were programmes of youth employment, strengthening of civic awareness, programmes of attraction to sports, creating of social rehabilitation rooms in children’s hospitals. Yakov Rogalin thoroughly analysed the advantages and disadvantages of each idea, and made suggestions of how those ideas could be implemented efficiently.

And then there was a pleasant finale – diplomas and acknowledgements were given to the companies, mass media and organizations which the respondents of the survey had recognized as the most active in solving social problems of the community, covering those problems in their broadcasts and on their pages, and thus, helping to solve them, as well as taking part in social actions.

On behalf of Donetsk charity fund “Dobrota” the representatives of socially responsible companies were presented with company briefcases with the fund logo, containing useful information about successful charity development.

The “Happy Child” Fund was given a special acknowledgement “For efficient charity popularization”.

With the wishes of success in the forthcoming year, with New Year souvenirs in their hands, filled with positive emotions and new ideas the participants were … Well, they were not parting but continued communicating, sharing thoughts, impressions and ideas. This leads us to the conclusion that the organizers have succeeded in achieving their goal – creating the air of comfortable and constructive communication, to gather a concerned audience and to offer it important topics for discussion and sharing experience. The organizers express their sincere gratitude to all the speakers and participants of the Second Inter-sector Partnership Forum for their active and fruitful work, and they wish to take the charge of positive energy into the forthcoming year 2012.

P.S. It would be unfair not to introduce the participants’ opinions and wishes which they had left on the “wishes desk”. Those who were short of time to share your impressions after the Forum can leave your comments, the feedback is very important for us.

“I want the Third Forum to last longer (from morning till night!!!) More time should be given for looking for new ideas, solving problems, innovative approaches in social projects. Well done!”

“Many thanks for the atmosphere, particularly for Yakov Rogalin. Good luck!”

“Let the Third Regional Forum take place! It is very useful, informative and qualitative!”

You can read all the comments on the scans:

More pictures:

Pictures by Dmitry Onischenko

Pictures by Evgeny Scherbakov

Pictures by Yana Koval

The Second Inter-sector Partnership Forum took place due to the support of Public Affairs Section of the US embassy in Ukraine.

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