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GEMI-Environmental Defense Fund (EDF): Guide to Successful Corporate-NGO Partnerships is the product of collaboration among GEMI member companies and Environmental Defense Fund. It is intended as a comprehensive aid to organizing, designing, implementing and measuring the success of corporate-NGO partnerships. The Guide also includes several case examples of successful partnerships. While the focus is on environmental projects, we feel the lessons learned can apply to any type of sustainability-driven partnership that involves active engagement between businesses and NGOs.


The Guide contains the following sections:


Why Partner. An overview of the key drivers behind business-NGO partnerships as well as potential pitfalls


Partnership Best Practices. Detailed recommendations for successful business-NGO partnerships based on Environmental Defense Fund’s almost 20 years of working with corporations and the legacy of GEMI member companies’ experiences. This section is organized into three parts: outlining best practices in project design (Part 1); project implementation (Part 2); and, measurement of results (Part 3) and contains specific examples of business-NGO partnerships featuring a range of experiences among GEMI companies and Environmental Defense Fund. These case examples highlight aspects of partnership best practices as well as the environmental, social and business benefits.


Companies can help the environment and the communities where they operate in many ways, including through philanthropic activities. In this Guide, however, we distinguish business-NGO partnerships from corporate philanthropy. In our view, a true partnership between a company and an NGO should not rely solely on financial contributions. Rather, a partnership occurs when independent organizations bring together their distinct views, expertise and resources to work towards common goals. A partnership is best measured by the environmental and business results achieved once both organizations have shared the risks, responsibilities and rewards of the project.


This Guide focuses on environmentally driven partnerships, including partnerships with broader mandates that have environmental components. However, we believe that many of the practices can be adapted to a wider range of business-NGO partnerships, including those addressing community developments, health and other social issues.


The Guide is a product of a business-NGO partnership involving GEMI member companies and Environmental Defense Fund, so it is also self-reflective. Based on an earlier Environmental Defense Fund publication, Catalyzing Environmental Results: Lessons in Advocacy Organization-Business Partnerships (1999), this updated Guide reflects the more recent partnership experiences of GEMI member companies and Environmental Defense Fund.

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