Increased Misgivings About NGO/Corporate Partnerships in Major Emerging Economies

As businesses seek ways to project credible messages about responsibility, many have been turning to partnerships with NGOs. This is not surprising—GlobeScan’s tracking indicates that public trust in NGOs continues to outstrip trust in business by a very significant margin, and most citizens in our global survey say that they would have increased respect for companies that choose to partner with NGOs.
However, GlobeScan’s latest monitoring of public sentiment on the issue suggests that the issue of partnerships is becoming more hazardous—for NGOs. A majority (53%) of those polled earlier this year across 23 countries say that their respect for a charity/NGO would go down if it chose to partner with a company. And this increased skepticism appears to be more pronounced in some major developing economies. Notably, the proportion in China who say they would lose respect for an NGO engaged in a corporate partnership has risen from 46% in 2003 to nearly four in five (78%) this year. There have also been significant rises in the proportions of such skeptics in India and Russia.
With the reputation of private business in these countries having been tainted by many high-profile corruption scandals, this may reflect public fear that NGOs’ independence and ability to act as rallying points for social change could be compromised. The rise in skepticism may also reflect misgivings about the coherence of existing corporate/NGO partnerships. On a recent GlobeScan webcast, SC Johnson’s Kelly Semrau stressed the importance of retaining “authenticity” when businesses and NGOs work together. These findings show this is also a preoccupation for consumers.
Finding from the GlobeScan Radar, Wave 1, 2012
This post was written by former GlobeScan Research Director, Sam Mountford.