Building Transformational Partnerships the Case of Cargill and CARE

By Zahid Torres-Rahman, Business Fights Poverty, Michelle Grogg, Cargill and Marcela Hahn, CARE USA

Cargill and CARE’s 50-year partnership offers insights and lessons for anyone looking to build an effective and long-term partnership. In this Briefing Paper, we set out success factors across five pillars that others wishing to create or sustain their corporate-NGO partnerships can adapt.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—the internationally-agreed goals for people and planet—encapsulate a vision for the world we want to see. It is widely recognised that if we are to deliver on this vision, and defend progress already made, we must all—business, civil society and government—partner more effectively and more deeply than ever.

The corporate-NGO business case:

Cargill and CARE’s 50-year partnership offers insights and lessons for anyone looking to build an effective and long-term partnership. In this Briefing Paper, we explore the benefits that both Cargill – the corporate and CARE – the NGO experience from their partnership. We formulate a six-point business case that others wishing to create or sustain their corporate-NGO partnerships can adapt. 

How to create transformational partnerships

We also describe how this partnership has evolved from a primarily philanthropic relationship to one that, especially over the past 10 years, has genuinely drawn on the capabilities, skills and resources of the two partners.

The Briefing paper proposes a model of corporate-NGO partnership evolution, from transactional to transformational. As partnerships evolve, we observe a ‘dialling up’ of the success factors across five pillars: towards one that involves convening partners around an ambitious shared purpose in a way that drives mutual value; a process that is based on co-creation; and an authentic approach to both internal communication and external communication. Based on interviews with experts across Cargill and CARE, both centrally and in-country offices this resonates strongly with their partnership experience.

This is the start of an important conversation. We share the Cargill-CARE story in the spirit of learning, and look forward to learning from your own experiences of building partnerships to deliver the ambition of the SDGs.

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