Message from the founder and chair of Partnership for Change, Ingrid Stange:

Ingrid+3In 2010 I challenged Tom Remlov, CEO of the Norwegian Opera and Ballet, to create Partnership for Change. I lead Formuesforvaltning´s philanthropic advisory, and together with Tom, the Norwegian Opera and Ballet and Formuesforvaltning had the opportunity to build a meeting place where we could raise interest in philanthrophy and social entrepreneurship. With the fantastic new Opera House in Oslo, Tom could offer an incredible venue. He enthusiastically agreed. Partnership for Change was founded with the objective to connect, inspire, and act. Together, we expanded the concept of inspiring cross-sector collaborations and social innovation.

The responsibility of industry and business in society is obvious. As the provider of wealth, jobs and new technology, business is the backbone of society. Furthermore, business has always needed innovation as a prerequisite to survive. Business will also be a major source of innovation in the future.

As a business woman, I have never been satisfied with the single bottom line thinking. To me, “the business of business is much more than business”. When I left traditional business to prioritize social impact in the mid-80s, this was seen as stepping aside. Today, among young leaders and entrepreneurs worldwide, this is mainstream. Business leaders and professionals all over the world are joining the movement led by unique individuals like Jeff Skoll, Bill Drayton, Jacqueline Novogratz, Bill Gates and Richard Branson.

Inspired by organisations such as Skoll Foundation, Ashoka and Acumen Fund, I established philanthropy advisory services at Formuesforvaltning in Norway in 2007, with the purpose of offering pro bono advisory services to interested clients.

The move from traditional grant-giving charity to more impact oriented funding – whether as grants or as investments – has grown stronger over the past decade. The social responsibility of business has also become evident to most business leaders. Still, there is a significant need for awareness-building on a number of issues:

1) The social responsibility of a business is not taken care of by establishing a Corporate Social Responsibility department. Businesses must integrate social responsibility into their strategy and into the core of their activities. This means acting as a responsible organisation throughout the value chain. From making sure your suppliers behave responsibly, producing goods and services that are not harming the environment or the customers, to channelling profits in a socially responsible way, a business leader can create positive social change.

2) Philanthropy is not charity – and vice versa. Philanthropy simply means love of mankind, and can take many forms. While charity alone often creates dependence, a strategically managed philanthropic approach can have significant social impact. This may include anything from grants and soft loans, to social investment with an expected financial return – and everything in between. To enable impact investment as a social development vehicle, philanthropy is important to build a strong pipeline of investment opportunities.

3) Partnerships are necessary to make the changes that will ensure a decent and enjoyable future for all. Partnership is a well-known element of business, but cross-sector partnership with actors from other sectors is equally important to create a sustainable future.

With these beliefs at our core, in only a few years Partnership for Change has become a solid organization that facilitates cross-sector partnership and social innovation both within and outside of the Nordic region. The 2011 conference received great interest from businesses, government representatives, NGOs and actors from other sectors. The US Ambassador, Barry White, joined us to help promote social entrepreneurship and diversity. The Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights became a partner. After the success of this first conference, we were able welcome many new partners who wanted to contribute and help organize the event.

The conference in 2012 built on the success of the first year, and now we are proud to announce not only additional significant partners, but also a broadening of the scope of the Partnership for Change Foundation: to connect all sectors of society, inspire through storytelling and provide pathways to guide relevant action.

Our social innovation fund, the Aung San Suu Kyi World Freedom Fund, was founded in 2012 supporting local community projects in Myanmar. Today we have offices in Inle Lake and Yangon lead by Barbara Bauer. The social innovation fund focuses on empowerment of women, children and youth, while preserving the natural environment where we work. In 2013 Partnership for Change also established an office in Minneapolis with the help from Orlyn Kringstad, Gordon Ommen and Antonia Felix, and we have completed a pre-project in South Sudan for our upcoming efforts there.

It is gratifying to see significant results of our efforts already, and I am excited to follow PfC’s development as we keep working with the multitude of good initiatives with which we are involved.

We welcome social innovators from all sectors of society to join in as Partners in Change, and become part of the important worldwide movement to set the world on the right track towards sustainable freedom.

Photo by Bjørn B. Asgeirson/Formuesforvaltning