“Cooperation between CSOs and businesses is a model that has been proven to work,” said Freek Janmat from the Delegation of the European Union at the opening of the online event organised by the Civil Society Resource Center, which addressed the importance of this collaboration. He shared the experiences from the region where in the pre-accession negotiations with the EU, civil society organizations and businesses join forces and work together, especially in the reforms envisaged.
The crisis caused by the coronavirus served for some companies to recognize the engagement of CSOs and found long-term partners in them. Representatives from the association Food Bank and the company Tinex spoke about the benefits of their joint action. Dushko Hristov from Food Bank shared the figures from the activities of the organization during the pandemic and pointed out that since March they have donated over 160 tons of food to 14,500 families who are at social risk. Although the association usually deals with the redistribution of surplus food, their needs and engagement have increased significantly.
Sonja Bojarovska from Tinex talked about the beginnings of the cooperation with Food Bank, but also pointed out other collaborators such as the Children’s Clinic Kozle, the Day Care Center in Shutka and the social enterprise “Izbor” in Strumica. During the pandemic crisis, the company also takes action through donation packages that humanitarian consumers can buy, and Tinex then donates them.
For this cooperation, Hristov pointed out that honest approach, perseverance and commitment are the main values on which the partnership is built. He also stressed that it is important for organizations to join as a network or coalition because then they represent more people and become a more important partner.
Aleksandra Petrovska Gorin from Pharmachem also spoke about her experiences. From the beginning of the crisis, the company subscribed to all subsequent issues of Face to Face magazine, thus supporting the sellers of this magazine. Among other collaborations with CSOs, she mentioned the SOS Children’s Village and the Union of Scouts. According to her, the top management of the company is the one who should support socially responsible activities and that Pharmachem is already recognized as such a company, so it often happens that they approach them for help.
Besir Dernjani from the Albiz Foundation shared his experience of working in an organization founded by 15 businesses in order for them to practice social responsibility. “Trust and transparency are needed for companies and associations to design programs together. “It is not enough for business representatives to just donate funds, they want to know exactly where their donations are going and to feel the activities as their own,” he explained.
In the second part of the event, Nikica Kusinikova from the association Konekt presented in more details the cooperation and mobilization of resources from the business community, giving concrete examples of different forms of cooperation such as donations, corporate volunteering, sponsorship of special events, campaigns, social marketing, etc. Kusinikova explained the five basic steps for CSOs to gain support from the business sector by giving specific guidance and advice on establishing and maintaining that relationship. According to the research she presented, the companies mostly donate for humanitarian purposes, i.e. for health treatments, then for sports, aid for the poor, humanitarian disasters, religious and culture.