Report Highlights Challenges, Opportunities of Industry-Nonprofit Environmental Partnerships

Report Highlights Challenges, Opportunities of Industry-Nonprofit Environmental Partnerships

Environmental nonprofit-industry partnerships are a growing and increasingly important strategy for improving environmental quality and reducing environmental burdens from new and existing products and services, according to a new report.

The report -- jointly published by the University of Michigan's Erb Environmental Management Institute and the nonprofit Green Business Network, producer of GreenBiz.com -- aims to provide decision-makers in business and environmental groups with the practical tools required to launch or improve effective partnerships. The report summarizes critical success factors and offers actionable tools in a user-friendly yet rigorous guidebook for busy professionals.

According to Collaboration for a Change: A Practitioner's Guide to Environmental Nonprofit-Industry Partnership, environmental partnerships can be an important alternative to costly and unpredictable strategies that rely on conflict, litigation, or special-interest lobbying. Unfortunately, results of partnerships often fall short of expectations because successful collaboration requires discipline, rigor, and institutional support.

"In the United States, industry and environmental nonprofits are arguably the two most important actors shaping sustainable development today," says Mark Tholke, the study's author. "Environmental partnerships are an increasingly valuable alternative because they free businesses and nonprofits from many of the legal, institutional and political constraints that slow or block entrepreneurialism in the public sector."

This report, written for business and nonprofit professionals directly responsible for implementing environmental partnerships, provides methodologies for planning, managing, and evaluating productive environmental partnerships, and demonstrates how collaboration is more efficient when each party understands the differing constituencies and constraints faced by the other.

Says Tholke: "The report targets business and nonprofit professionals simultaneously because critical success factors in the planning, managing and evaluating stages help ensure successful collaboration regardless of participants' training and affiliation. With rare exception, the most successful environmental partnerships employ structure to work methodically and relentlessly toward separately needed change."

The free report may be downloaded at www.greenbiz.com/partnerships, which also serves as an ongoing resource on this topic with links to key publications, tools and organizations.

The Erb Environmental Management Institute (www.umich.edu/~cemp),jointly administered by the Michigan Business School and the School of Natural Resources & Environment, was created to study and understand the roles and relationships among businesses, governments, and not-for-profit organizations as they interact and affect the environment.

Green Business Network (www.GreenBiz.com) is a project of The National Environmental Education & Training Foundation, based in Washington, D.C. Sponsors include AT&T, Bank of America, Pitney Bowes, Kimberly Clark, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.