The power of partnerships in social innovation

We’ve heard the sayings, “two heads are better than one” and “it takes a community to win-win partnerships = shared valueraise a child”. These speak to our inherent belief in the power of partnerships.

“The urge to form partnerships, to link up in collaborated arrangements is perhaps the oldest, strongest, and most fundamental force in nature. There are no solitary, free-living creatures. Every form of life is dependent on other forms.” Lewis Thomas, biologist.

If we consider partnerships at the community level, we see significant opportunity for social innovation when for-profit and non-profit organizations work together.

“At a time of major budgetary constraints, social innovation is an effective way of responding to social challenges, by mobilising people’s creativity to develop solutions and make better use of scarce resources.”

So what is social innovation and how does it work?

  • New ideas (products, services, models) that address social needs and also create new collaborations
  • Good for society – enhances capacity to act (increased social capital)
  • By and for people – vested interests working together to solve problems and empower, creating positive change

UK’s MITIE Group is a great example of the power of partnerships and social innovation. Winners of the Business in the Community – European Employee Volunteering Awards, MITIE Group, in partnership with Jobcentre Plus and the London Employer Accord, sponsored by Alliance Boots, Tata Consultancy Services and Hewlett Packard, created The Real Apprentice program – a ten-week program that targets people who are unemployed, homeless, facing barriers to work due to disabilities, or single parents on benefits.

Over multiple intakes, 198 people have completed the apprenticeship. 144 have secured job offers. Others have gone on to work elsewhere or return to school. Their lives have been changed.

Read more about the partnership and have a listen to how the participants of the project feel about its success here. You’ll hear participants, leadership and staff talk about shared value:

  • Increased skills, confidence, potential and belief in self
  • “Everyday I learn something new”
  • Helped find sustainable workforce
  • Great way to develop staff
  • Sense of achievement
  • Turn a negative into a positive
  • Meaning – Belonging – Part of something bigger
  • Pride

Not surprisingly, MITIE Group recently achieved GOLD in Business in the Community’s 2012 Corporate Responsibility Index, the UK’s leading voluntary benchmark of corporate responsibility.

Create and Connect works with a number of non-profit/for-profit partnerships, and the specific shared value is different depending on the participants and the projects. But in general – it ‘feels good’ and it ‘does good’. Really, the opportunities are endless.

What challenges do you see that need to be addressed in your community AND how can your organization creatively work in partnership toward a solution? Need ideas or help organizing? Contact us for more information or a non-binding pilot project.

This entry was posted in Business, Charity, Corporate, Social Change and tagged Employee Volunteering Program, shared value, social innovation partnerhip, volunteering, win-win. Bookmark the permalink.

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