Menu ENN Search

NGOs and the private sector

Summary of unpublished report1

Recent research, carried out by an intern at Concern Worldwide, has examined the costs and benefits of public-private partnership, involving the non-governmental organisation (NGO) sector. The aim of the research was to better prepare and guide public actors in potential collaborations.

NGOs and the private sector have recently initiated a remarkable, though precarious, movement away from confrontation and towards dialogue and co-operation. Collaborative efforts are sought out and desired on the part of both the business sector and NGOs. The relationships between NGOs and their business partners are varied. Public private partnerships include activities such as fundraising or 'resource mobilisation', negotiations for lower product prices, research collaborations, consultations or discussions, arrangements to implement codes of conduct, corporate social responsibility marketing projects, and contracting out public services.

The main findings of the study were as follows:

Negative aspects of partnership

Positive aspects of partnership


Vast amounts of funding become available to NGOs as a result of collaboration, partnership, or donation relationship with the corporate sector. This may be funding that would otherwise be entirely unavailable to the NGO. Partnership relationships depend on the characteristics of the individual actors and the specific initiatives being co-ordinated for collaboration. It is necessary, however, that the positive and negative outcomes are equitably and appropriately evaluated and analysed prior to partnership. Understanding the private sector and its motivations, calculating potential positive and negative effects, and determining whether benefit exceeds cost may provide NGOs with guidelines and strategies for developing a positive, beneficial, and rewarding relationship with the business sector.

Show footnotes

1Doing Business with 'Big Business': Profit Motive, Philanthropy, and Public Private Partnerships. By Ellen J. Johnson, Concern Intern via Boston University, April 2003.

2Richter, Judith. (2003). 'We the Peoples' or 'We the Corporations'? Critical Reflections on UN-Business 'partnerships'. IBFAN/GIFA: Geneva. p17.

More like this

FEX: Concerns on Global HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria Fund conflicts of interest

Summary of letter1 and responses2,3 A typical example of a shebeen in an informal settlement, Namibia This article raises a number of issues about corporate sponsorship in the...

FEX: Series of letters on ENN conflict of interest, by Noreen Prenderville, Mark Myatt, Steve Collins and Mark Manary

A word from ENN In Issue 23 of Field Exchange, a letter by Mary Lunga'ho, Lida Lhotska and Rebecca Norton was published highlighting concerns they had regarding potential ENN...

en-net: Provide input on how business can support children in emergencies

UNICEF and the UN Global Compact are collaborating on the development of guidance for business to protect and support children’s rights and well-being before, during...

FEX: Value chain approach to increase production of RUTF/CSB

By Yuki Isogai Yuki Isogai is Operations Officer for the Ethiopia Nutrition Project/Private Sector Development Specialist with the World Bank. She has a wide range of...

FEX: Policy brief on engagement between public and private sectors for nutrition

Summary of research1 Location: Global What we know: Worldwide 'nutrition transition', including in low-middle income countries is leading to increasing consumption of...

en-net: Vacancy- Senior Nutrition Governance and Systems Reform Specialist- The Power of Nutrition

Closing date: 5th July

Based in London

About The Power of Nutrition

The Power of Nutrition was first conceived at the Nutrition for Growth Summit in 2013...

FEX: Feasibility of private micro flood insurance provision in Bangladesh

Summary of research1 Women head for a nearby flood shelter established by the government in Bangladesh A recent paper describes a study to test the viability of a flood...

Blog post: The private sector in nutrition - a player by default or choice? Reflections from a multi-stakeholder meeting

I participated in a Round Table organised by South Asia Food and Nutrition Security Initiative SAFANSI In Colombo in June which was titled “Putting the Lens on the...

FEX: USAID in public-private alliance initiative

Summary of published research1 A malnourished child helps herself to locally produed RUTF in Malawi The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) established...

FEX: Valid Nutrition

Name Valid Nutrition Address Cuibín Farm, Derry Duff, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland Chief Executive Officer: Derek Staveley Phone +353 86 7809541 Chair of Trustees...

FEX: Nutrition research in emergencies

Summary of meeting In 2002/03, the ENN undertook a pilot study to look at the feasibility and appropriateness of an initiative to support information sharing and nutrition...

FEX: Start Network

Name Start Network Address Start Network, c/o Save the Children, 1 St John's Lane, London EC1M 4AR, UK Email Web...

en-net: IOCC is looking for a Health and Nutrition Technical Advisor (Syria)

IOCC is looking for a Health and Nutrition Technical Advisor for Syria programs

The Health and Nutrition Technical Advisor is responsible for providing a...

FEX: Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) in Protracted Crisis: The South Sudan Civil Society Alliance (CSA) experience

By Mercy Laker, Dr Soma Emmanuel and Joseph Scott View this article as a pdf Lisez cet article en français ici Mercy Laker is Assistant Country Director for CARE...

FEX: National and local actor’s share of global humanitarian funding

Summary of report1 Location: Global What we know: Emergency aid funding has risen tenfold in the last 14 years. What this article adds: A recent review of national and...

FEX: SPRING (Strengthening Partnerships, Results and Innovations in Nutrition Globally)

Name: SPRING (Strengthening Partnerships, Results and Innovations in Nutrition Globally) Established: 2011 (5 year USAID funded project) Address: JSI Research & Training...

FEX: Mastercard experiences during the humanitarian response in southern Europe

By Paul Musser and Sasha Kapadia View this article as a pdf Paul Musser is Senior Vice President of Humanitarian, Development & Donors, Mastercard. Paul Musser leads the team...

FEX: Health systems strengthening in fragile contexts: A partnership model in South West State, Somalia

By Kevin Paul Mackey and Sirya Ezekiel Kiptum View this article as a pdf Lisez cet article en français ici Kevin Mackey is the Programme Development and Quality...

Video: Part I: Indian experiences of private sector engagement in nutrition

Dr Charulatha Banerjee, ENN's Asia Regional Knowledge Management Specialist caught up with Dr Rajan Sankar, Director of Nutrition at Tata Trusts to understand more about...


Reference this page

NGOs and the private sector. Field Exchange 19, July 2003. p11.



Download to a citation manager

The below files can be imported into your preferred reference management tool, most tools will allow you to manually import the RIS file. Endnote may required a specific filter file to be used.