Patronage: a win-win commitment
Meeting with Florence Provendier, Member of French Parliament for the Hauts-de Seine department
Since the tremendous momentum of generosity that followed the fire of the Notre-Dame Cathedral, patronage was put under the spotlight, first praised, then quickly criticized, especially for its taxation system, one of the most advantageous in the world. However, the commitment of companies is more than ever necessary because it contributes significantly to the associations’ resources (financial, HR, donations in kind), while giving meaning to their missions. Florence Provendier, Member of French Parliament for the Hauts-de-Seine department, who worked in a company and also directed the NGO Un Enfant par la Main, gives us her point of view on these relationships that are winning for all, creating virtuous circle between associations, companies and public authorities.
You have been a leader of an international NGO and are still very involved with various associations, what recommendations would you make to associations in their search for funds between the private and the public?
Above all, I would tell them that it is important to have a clear associative project. There are about 1.3 million associations of all sizes in France, whose resources come from both private and public donors. It is thus structuring for an association to have a well-defined positioning in order to collect funds in adequacy with its DNA. I would also tell them that sponsorship is not limited to financial donations. It can also be part of Pro Bono, which allows employees to put their skills to the service of associations during their working hours, or in-kind donations, such as food aid or donations of equipment, which also enters the positive dynamics of the circular economy.
Will companies play an increasingly important role in tackling the societal and environmental challenges of tomorrow?
In the 2000s, CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) was an important turning point for companies that, for the first time, had to question the impact their production had on society. More recently, in May 2019, the French Pact law was passed, which goes even further, since it allows companies to incorporate their “raison d’être” into their status. A number of them, and not least, have already done so. Patronage is part of this dynamic since it is one of the means for companies to give meaning to their actions, which is beneficial for its employees, future talents and more broadly all its stakeholders. Take the example of an employee who goes to an association as part of a Pro Bono mission. He certainly brings his skills to the structure or its beneficiaries, but in return he acquires new skills, opens up to a new world, finds social utility in his work. This is a win-win commitment. At the same time, the association benefits from skills that it could not acquire otherwise.
Today only one in 10 companies is a patron and all agree that the benefits of sponsorship are widely shared. It should be noted that this type of device is not reserved for big companies and that very small companies / SMEs / ETIs in the regions are also interested. As for already sponsored companies, they should be encouraged to set up partnerships in the long term, rather than one-off operations, in a vision shared with the associations.
Can we say that this is the end of the “welfare state”?
We regularly talk about “state disengagement” but we must not forget, and it is a French characteristic, that public funding still represents a very important part of the resources of the associations since it is roughly equivalent to that of the private. To this can be added recent initiatives that promote engagement, such as the Citizen Engagement Account (CEC), which allows acquiring rights by putting oneself at the service of an association (among other things). We must also rethink the financial balance in favor of the general interest. The structures of the Social Solidarity Economy (ESS) or Social Solidarity Enterprises (ESUS) for example, are in full development.
It is clear that there is not one side, the economic and the non-economic, and the other the good and the bad. Everyone has a role to play depending on, its policy for the government, its “raison d’être” for the company and its associative project for associations. Together, thanks to our differences and complementarities, we can build the future of our society.