Dispelling the Myth: An Evolving Relationship Between NGOs and Private Businesses

By Samuel Worthington

The Huffington Post

A common misperception regarding NGO-private sector relations is one based on mutual distrust and occasional confrontation; or with the advent of corporate social responsibility funding, one solely based on donor-recipient transactions. With the international development landscape rapidly evolving, some historical and present-day assumptions are simply inaccurate.

The following statements are not true of operational U.S. NGOs:

1. They are generally uncomfortable partnering with companies seeking new markets or profits

2. As advocates they only critique private sector practices or push for increased regulation

3. Their positive interactions with corporations is solely linked to charitable donations

4. They are not helpful in establishing public-private partnerships

These stereotypes are fundamentally flawed. In fact, over the past decades, U.S. NGOs have moved far beyond simply investigating and critiquing the behavior of corporations. Concurrently, changing business interests and concepts of a triple bottom line or shared value have led to converging interests between the two sectors.

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