"Both companies and NGOs gain from cross-fertilisation".

Several Belgian companies finance various projects through OVO. Why is this support so important? 

"First of all, there is the money itself, of course. Thanks to financial contributions from organisations, NGOs can roll out their projects, reach their target group and advance them in the right way." 

"But perhaps even more important than the funding, is the endorsed reference. A multinational with offices in 23 countries supporting OVO is a gold mine. It makes other organisations notice us. We are picked up more quickly, which means we also appear in the network of new partners. In short: the support of organizations like Sioen causes a snowball effect. And it goes both ways." 

What do you mean by that? 

"Organisations that support NGOs reap the benefits. To begin with, you are signing up for more than profit: you are achieving a social return and bringing certain problems to attention. That in itself is a boost." 

"Moreover, corporate social responsibility (CSR) plays an increasingly important role in employer branding. People want to work for a company that also aims to have a social dimension. In terms of both recruitment and retention, CSR is an important asset." 

"Finally, there are also other stakeholders, such as shareholders and consumers. They are taking more and more account of the global sustainability aspect. Dutch research, for example, shows that 79% of consumers change their buying behaviour based on social responsibility, inclusiveness and environmental impact." 


Cross-fertilisation between business and NGOs 

Why does OVO particularly advocate for collaborations rather than mere financial support? 

"Organisations and NGOs can learn a lot from each other. Traditionally, companies mainly aim for economic return, while NGOs focus on the social one. That has changed over the years. The business community has embraced the SDGs, but struggles to apply that theoretical framework in practice. Aid organisations have tons of experience in that and can help the business community." 

"Conversely, NGOs are gradually realising that permanently donating resources is not a sustainable strategy. Sooner or later their target group has to make the step to economic self-sufficiency. Something that companies can support. The interaction between both parties can be enormously enriching. Bringing different visions and backgrounds together leads to valuable cross-pollinations and fuels creativity and innovation. With OVO, we want to take on the role of facilitator: we bring parties together and set up a joint learning process."  


Building on own values 

What is needed for a partnership to be successful? 

"There must be a connection with the company's own values. A partnership only delivers a clear return if you build on the company's own vision. Supporting projects that fit in with your company increases credibility and commitment." 

Through a clear link with the company activities and vision, corporate social responsibility becomes a strategic choice with which you make a difference." 


This article previously appeared on csr.sioen.com