Community Business Partnerships and the Environment

Maybe more than any other partnership aim, a partnership's goals relating to the environment have to be genuine – and have to reflect the partner organisations' core values.

If they are superficial, public opinion could quickly turn against partnership members – resulting in damage to reputations and long-term doubt of true motives.

For Business, Less than a Genuine Commitment Leads to Public Scepticism

An area like the environment is one where critics can be many and vocal – an issue with the potential to get really ugly if a business partner seems to be only offering a "token" effort to helping the environment through its partnership with a community group.

If the business partner in the relationship is helping the environment "just to be seen" and not through a genuine commitment to the cause, questions will be asked and criticism levelled.

Not only that, but any scepticism that results will not only reflect badly on the business, but will also impact on the community group partner as well.

Before entering into a partnership with a community group to help the environment, a business has to make sure it is genuine in its "commitment to the cause", and that the commitment is one which stretches broadly across the firm.

Not only that, but it is also important that the partnership your business is a part of is not only genuine in its desire to do the right thing, but is also seen by the public to be genuine and doing the right thing.

Ideally your business' own impact on the environment will be a positive one. However, if it is not – if, for example, you contribute excessive waste from your day-to-day operations – you may want to:
  • re-assess being part of an environmental partnership, or, better yet,
  • acknowledge that issue and join the Australian Institute for Corporate Responsibility or join with an environmental group to help address your business' impact on the physical environment.

The bottom line is – for businesses looking to enter this type of arrangement with a community group which works in the environment, be genuine and, again, make sure support for the partnership is broad across the business.

What to do – Business

To find an environment group to partner, especially if yours is a small-to-medium sized enterprise and you don't already have a project in mind:
  • Look in local newspapers or newsletters.
  • Talk to staff or other local contacts.
  • Talk to the local council.
  • Search for a group on GiveNow.com.au.

Once you've identified a potential project:
  • Examine what your business has to offer in terms of a partnership with a community group. What can you provide to help an environmental effort being completed by a community group? It could be: staff volunteering to help complete on-ground works; sponsorships for working bees; in-kind support to help the effort through machinery, tools, equipment; or even drinks and sausages for the post-working bee barbecue!
  • Consider what you would like to gain. For example, if you are seeking a profile boost, make sure you are aware of that when you look for options with a community group partner. If your staff are keen to get involved, consider a partnership model based around volunteering so you can gain through increased staff happiness and morale while helping out the environment. Of course, your partnership could combine more than one model.
  • For more information on approaching a community group for a partnership, you can refer to the help sheets:

    All of these help sheets are available at the Community Business Partnership Brokerage Service, at the Our Community website.