Who’s sticking their nose in your business?




                                                                                                 image davi sommerfeld  Creative Commons–flickr


By Ed Nicholson

Sorry for the week’s hiatus.  I was out talking about social media last week–instead of participating in it. 

At Tyson, we’ve been involved in hunger relief for nine years.  Well, actually for the first couple of years, we weren’t really involved–we just threw money and food at it.  Just like all the other good work "campaigns" we’d ever done before. 
But then an interesting thing happened.  We started visiting foodbanks during donations; getting to know their work.  We went to conferences, and heard a diversity of inspiring speakers.  Our employees started doing hunger relief work in their own communities. 
In the process, we became engaged.  Hunger relief has become an important part of what we’re doing as a company.
But sometimes it does complicate the relationship we have with our non-profit partners.
Now that we have some time invested in the issue, we have opinions.  We ask questions.  Sometimes we challenge conventions. Some might see it as interfering where we don’t belong.   We’re not always right, but we’re engaged. 

So here’s your chance to  voice an opinion and help us become better partners.  Please comment:   Where do we draw the line between contributing and meddling?  Should we produce food and leave the strategic work to the experts?  If you’re a non-profit, does it aggravate you that someone from the outside would presume to tell you how to do your job?  Would it be a better world if ultimately corporations were not even involved in social issues? 
You know I love dissent.  So let me have some.

One Reply to “Who’s sticking their nose in your business?”

  1. Elise Mitchell

    I favor the “contribution/meddling” (choose your descriptor) approach to philanthropic partnerships. First, by collaborating, corporations and non-profits bring value to each other and hopefully make one another better.  Each partner brings an asset to the table that the other one wants and needs, whether that be credibility, stakeholders, money, influence, manpower, access, ability to effect change, etc.

    The second benefit is that two heads are better than one because they each bring a different perspective.  Together, the partners share insights about the environment, the stakeholders as well as the overall issue that perhaps neither one has a full understanding of on their own. 
    The result is a more integrative relationship rather than one that involves a donation and that’s it.  I can’t imagine expecting a donation-only relationship to last very long as there is not much gained or lost for either partner, and therefore little reason to maintain it.
    The "contribution" approach won’t work, however, if the corporation is heavy-handed and doesn’t treat the non-profit as a true partner, or vice versa.  Adopting an authentic spirit of collaboration on both sides is key.

    Elise Mitchell is a partner at Mitchell Communications Group (Tyson Foods is a client)

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