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The GreenBiz NGO Report turns the tables on activists

<p>What happens when corporations rank advocates and activists? Some NGOs will be happier than others.</p>

For years, we’ve seen corporations rated, ranked and reviewed by a wide range of NGOs. This is often part of a name-and-shame campaign seeking big brands to make big changes. So this year we decided to turn the tables and have sustainability executives rate leading NGOs.

Today, we’re releasing the GreenBiz NGO Report (free download). We asked more than 200 companies — about three-quarters with revenue over $1 billion — to assess 30 of the largest environmental NGOs on their credibility and influence. I’d love to say that we cracked the code on how to force-rate the NGOs so there was a clear No. 1 and No. 30. We didn’t  — although we’d like to get there in the future. Instead, we tabulated the data and created four category profiles that reflect how large corporations view the NGOs.

• Trusted Partners – Corporate-friendly, highly credible, long-term partners with easy-to-find public success stories

• Useful Resources – Highly credible organizations known for creating helpful frameworks and services for corporate partners

• Brand Challenged – Credible, but not influential, organizations

• The Uninvited – Less broadly known groups, or those viewed more as critics than partners

The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund and WWF topped the ratings as Trusted Partners. Greenpeace sneaked in as a Useful Resource, along with Ceres, BSR, NRDC and others.

Beyond just rating and ranking, we also wanted to know how corporate sustainability leaders worked with NGOs and what advice they had for working together. It’s all in the report and we look forward to your feedback.

NGO Day at GreenBiz Forum

A funny thing happened as we were crunching the data and writing the report. We held three GreenBiz Executive Network meetings during January and got some interesting feedback from our members when it came to consultants and NGOs. Our network members cited a number of examples where they feel business is moving faster than many NGOs and consultancies.

It’s clear that the ground is shifting when it comes to corporate sustainability programs. Currently, our evidence is anecdotal and we’ll be conducting more research during the year to explore these changes. But programs have matured and company execs aren’t just looking for help with their CSR reports. They’re looking for specific expertise to support their sustainability goals.

We’ll be looking at this topic for much of Wednesday morning at this week’s GreenBiz Forum. If you can’t be in Arizona with us, you should definitely tune in via our free livestream. I’ll certainly enjoy launching the report and getting a discussion going with EDF’s Gwen Ruta, Greenpeace’s Phil Radford and Green America’s Alisa Gravitz.

But that’s not all. WWF will discuss sustainable beef with McDonald's and JBS, moderated by GreenBiz’s Joel Makower. Asia Pulp & Paper and Greenpeace will be part of another discussion, “From Conflict to Collaboration.” Dow’s Neil Hawkins will discuss NGO collaborations, Anne Kelly from Ceres will talk about why sustainability needs lobbyists and Joel wraps it all up with a keynote interview with The Nature Conservancy’s Mark Tercek.

It will be a big morning and we hope you’re there sharing it with us. Download the report, give us your feedback and join us for these lively discussions.

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