Social Innovation and New Corporate Partnerships in Perú

Feb 22, 2024

Companies everywhere are under pressure from customers, staff and shareholders to show their commitment to equity, social and climate justice. This presents charities and causes with a radical (and growing!) opportunity to explore different ways of working with the private sector. Forget outdated “charity of the year” schemes. If we want to start and sustain different sorts of high-impact partnerships, we need to get out of our comfort zones and imagine something different.

In this week’s Episode of the Fundraising Radicals podcast, Irene Arellano, head of innovation and business development at CARE Perú, is doing just that - and boy, did she get me thinking! As we talked, I realised this wasn’t just a conversation about the ups and downs of setting up a new social innovation. It was a conversation about re-examining traditional roles, not just of companies and the private sector, but of charities, causes and communities, and the roles we play in delivering change.

Confidence to break from “tradition”

As fundraisers, we are bound by a dominant North American and European orthodoxy that limits our view of who can deliver impact and how. Irene and her team are turning this paradigm on its head. It started by breaking each partner out of their prescribed role. Free from the binds of being ‘givers’ and ‘receivers’ it was a move that enabled her team to build a consultancy service that aims to influence company-wide change – advancing the social mission of corporate and cause alike, and building a new (unrestricted) revenue stream.

Here's the crunch: to do this, they first had to step back and reimagine the role and value that their organisation brings. That’s because success isn’t just about how companies see you. It is about how you see yourself. When you are confident in your proposition and purpose, you are free to engage as equals and build partnerships that deliver mutual value, and exceed the expectations of everyone involved.

No time like the present

Don’t wait to be invited. To spin an ancient Chinese proverb, “the best time to build a corporate partnership was twenty years ago, the second-best time is today”. Yes, it can be easier to find the space to innovate and take risks if you’re part of a larger organisation. But smaller causes can be less confined and have more freedom to explore. What matters is that you get yourself into a “high-value mindset”, understand the value of what you do, and how and why you do it. Then you’re ready to have open and honest conversations with the people and organisations around you, and to explore new ideas together.

Create space for change

It won’t happen overnight. As Irene reminds us, social innovation is always an exploration. It needs time and space to grow, and to fail. From my own experience of setting up a social enterprise, I know I’ve learned as much from getting it wrong, as from getting it right. Trying, failing, and learning are key parts of the process, and you can use them as tools to evolve.

Because there is no guide book when it comes to social innovation. That’s the whole point. If we’re willing to break from the confines of “traditional” prescriptive, narrow fundraising partnerships, there is freedom, fun, and funding to be found on the other side.

Intrigued? Tune in to listen to the full episode now.

Link to the episode here.


I’m Craig, founder of the Fundraising Radicals, host of a podcast that imaginatively goes by the same name, and convenor of the award-winning Global Radicals: Fundraising Leadership Programme. Our aim is to turn the world of fundraising upside-down and explore alternative approaches grounded in experiences in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. We’re also a platform for global voices and perspectives, sharing diverse and new ideas and inspiration for fundraising leaders everywhere.

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Photo by Néstor Morales on Unsplash


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