Over the past 30 years, companies, civil society, and governments have come a long way in creating new collaborative models to address shared challenges and opportunities for sustainable development.

We are faced with challenges such as catastrophic climate change, increasing inequalities, and the rapid emergence of new technologies that disrupt societies and raise new, fundamental ethical questions. To tackle these challenges, we must transcend the status quo of individual actions to foster collaboration for impact at scale. We need well-designed, well-governed, accountable, and impactful collaborations.

Multinational enterprises (MNEs) face a range of challenges when entering developing countries, including the need to adapt their business models to local markets’ cultural, economic, institutional and geographic features. MNEs may consider collaborating with non-profit nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to help facilitate new modes of value creation.

Collaboration is one of the keys for unlocking sustainability, with leaders from all sectors of society agreeing that that solving environmental and social challenges requires unparalleled cooperation. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and businesses have been collaborating with each other through corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs for more than 60 years now.

It evolved from serving local communities at first to international communities the latter. It began simply as a reaction to social and environmental issues then grew into a sustainable response to these challenges.

Aside from CSR, NGOs and businesses have collaborated in different forms. These can be philanthropic, transactional, or integrative in nature. Philanthropic forms include financial donations, donations in-kind, and access to potential donors as in international grants for nonprofit organizations. Transactional forms include employee volunteering and sponsorship. Integrative forms include joint ventures.

Three factors that drive collaboration between NGOs and businesses are Alignment, refers to organizational fit in the form of similarity of partners’ values, willingness to respect the partner’s values. The second factor, commitment, can be characterized by the feeling of loyalty and satisfaction, the effort exerted to maintain the collaboration, and the perceived importance of the relationship. The third factor, trust, is explained as the confidence in a partner’s credibility and benevolence. Collaborations become more successful when partners believe the partner is competent, reliable, fulfills expectations and promises, and when they care and support each other.