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5 things to look for when choosing an on-ground implementation partner for healthcare CSR

Modern enterprises are actively involved in CSR as companies now believe they are equally responsible and genuinely interested in improving the state of their community and stakeholders. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted profit-oriented organizations to wake up to the gruesome reality of the healthcare infrastructure and compelled them to contribute in whichever way possible to improve the healthcare facilities in the country.
Smooth implementation of CSR activities, especially healthcare CSR, often demands collaboration with an on-ground partner but organizations are too often not very well aware of the process or are too skeptical, for a variety of reasons. Most organizations just conduct a background check of the NGOs to ensure they have chosen the right partner. However, especially in a sector like healthcare, equal contribution in terms of competence and expertise is required in order to bring a sustainable change. Simply providing monetary support won’t make a real difference either and Companies need to look at much more than due diligence process, when choosing an implementation partner as solid and sustainable results from healthcare CSR initiatives will only come with equally invested partnerships. Here are a few factors, besides the usual background checks and due diligence processes that companies need to consider when choosing an on-ground implementation partner for healthcare CSR projects:

1. Alignment of long-term vision

An organization first needs to understand whether its vision and objectives are aligned with the NGO’s vision. If the company has an elaborate, long term vision to augment the healthcare infrastructure in a particular geographic area, the chosen NGO must have the required capabilities and willingness to execute the same. Both the company and the NGO need to be on the same page, mobilize their resources and work in synergy to achieve the long term goals.

2. Analyze the track record of the NGO team

What kind of work has the NGO done in the past? It’s vital to assess the track record of the NGO to understand whether the collaboration would be fruitful in the long run. The organization must analyze whether the healthcare programmes in the past were executed on time and had the requisite outputs and impact. Analyzing the track record would give insights into the team’s level of commitment, cooperation and skills which is critical for the success of the project.

3. Determine the nature of partnership – sustainable intervention or short-term transactional relationship?

The nature of partnership is yet another important thing to be considered. If the company has a set of objectives that it aims to achieve through the CSR activities, a short term transactional relationship with the NGO won’t work. Assistance in the form of distribution of medicines to the underprivileged or any such activities intended to provide short-term relief can be implemented through short-term relationships. However, companies that are serious about creating a long term impact through a well-planned, extensive project like increasing bed capacity or providing high-end equipment etc. should ensure the NGOs are open and competent enough to handle sustainable interventions.

4. Alignment on impact matrix

When both the NGOs and companies come together to achieve a shared objective, there needs to be a consensus on key areas where resources and funds would be channeled which can be achieved through impact matrix. Impact matrix helps identify opportunities, optimize resources and review the impact of actions and strategies executed over the period. In case of a long-term healthcare project, it’s essential that the NGOs submit reports that emphasize the goals achieved and yet to be achieved in regular intervals. This helps the companies gain a clear understanding of where their CSR initiatives are headed.

5. Employee participation in CSR programs

Employee participation helps create a positive impact on the CSR initiatives. Though the majority of the objectives would be accomplished by the on-ground partner, it wouldn’t hurt to encourage and accept any kind of help from company employees. Employee participation creates a deeper impact as each member is now involved in contributing to the noble cause in some way or the other. Companies that are committed to the healthcare project for a longer period of time should partner with NGOs that can accommodate and utilize help received from company employees in an optimal manner.
Companies today are moving from a one-time donation model and striving to elevate the healthcare infrastructure across urban and rural areas with rural regions being the primary focus for obvious reasons. Healthcare projects can bear results only if there is sustainable efforts in that direction. Having an on-ground implementation partner is one of the best ways to ensure your healthcare CSR initiatives are producing the intended results. A good partnership is built on the strong foundation of mutual respect, integrity and above all a good rapport between both the parties involved. The factors discussed here will help companies zero in on the right on-ground partner for all their long-term CSR projects.
Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.
Dr Ashwin Naik, Co-Founder, Mission ICUAshwin Naik is an author and award-winning entrepreneur. He is widely regarded as the go-to expert on Affordable Healthcare Innovation, Scaling Social Impact and Mental Wellbeing. As an entrepreneur he has started multiple healthcare organisations – Manah Wellness (Platform for Preventive Mental health), Let’s Talk (Helpline for Mental Health Support during COVID19), Vaatsalya (India’s first rural hospitals network), Seraniti (India’s first integrated mental health organization, acquired by Curefit) and We Scale Impact (Global Health Consulting). He is an Ashoka Fellow as well as a TED Fellow and a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. Other recognitions include Economic Times Leaders under 40, Young Leader by Asia Society Asia21 in 2011, Finalist for the India Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2010 by Schwab Foundation. Dare Magazine India in its April 2011 edition profiled Ashwin as 50 inspiring Entrepreneurs of India.