aligned goals, such
collaborations can be
fruitful for industries
that have synergistic
missions. But if a
potential partner isn’t
going to be a good fit
for a specific project,
I’m not opposed to
organization is an island, especially
when it comes to making the world a
better place. Instead of going it alone,
companies and advocacy groups are
joining forces to launch social responsibility projects that are good for the
planet, the people living on it—and,
But before diving in, both partners
must employ the same forethought and
planning that accompanies a traditional
For companies, that means the proposed project should have a link to
“Projects with not-for-profits must
have relevance to the business,” says
Dr. Oren Cohen, senior vice president
and chief medical and scientific officer
at Quintiles Transnational Corp., a
global pharmaceutical contract research
organization in Durham, North
“These projects have to make sense
on a number of levels,” he explains.
“They have to align with our business,
our mission and our global footprint.
It’s just like any other project in that
At the same time, not-for-profits
must ensure their mission doesn’t get
lost in the quest for added resources.
“Many companies either don’t know
how or are unwilling to partner without
taking over the project. It’s not always
easy to partner in a way that keeps the
not-for-profit intact,” says Dr. Peter
Hotez, Ph.D., president of Sabin
Vaccine Institute, a not-for-profit group
working for the global control of infectious and tropical diseases.
As part of its work, the Washington,
D.C., USA-based group has partnered
with Quintiles and other organizations
on its projects.
To maintain a healthy balance in the
relationship, Dr. Hotez urges for-profit
companies to respect the not-for-profit’s goals as well as their own
“You should look at these projects as
any other successful venture and recognize the value your partner’s success
brings to your business,” he says.
THE RIGHT ONE
Any proposed partnership should
begin with a thorough vetting—even if
it doesn’t always translate to a happy
“With properly aligned goals, such
collaborations can be fruitful for
industries and not-for-profits that
have synergistic missions,” says
Adriana Vela, founder and CEO of
NanoTecNexus, a nanotechnology
industry research organization in San
Diego, California, USA. “But if a
potential partner isn’t going to be a
good fit for a specific project, I’m not
opposed to walking away.”
Dr. Cohen warns companies to move
slowly and to assess all aspects of the
project before making a commitment.
“If you don’t vet the ethical issues,
the regulatory framework and the community impact of the project before
moving forward, chances are it will
blow up,” he says. “Never go in cold.
Take the time to effectively evaluate all
of those touch points before plowing
For the collaboration to work, companies should pick projects that play to
their core strengths, says Dr. Nilanthi
de Silva, professor of parasitology and
head of the Medical Education Centre
at the University of Kelaniya in
Ragama, Sri Lanka.
But that may not always be obvious.
“Take a holistic view of what you
can offer,” she recommends.
As an example, Dr. de Silva points to