Monica Brown

Monica Brown

Head of Charity Advisory and Programmes

Charities Aid Foundation

How charities can benefit from collaboration

Charities play an important part in modern society, providing services and activities for those who are most vulnerable. Yet for many, there is the constant challenge of securing the appropriate level of resources to respond to the demand for their services. This has never been more prevalent than during the last 18 months and the devastating impact of the pandemic.

It has never been more important for charities to consider collaborating with others to achieve their mission and multiply the impact they have across the sector. By working with other charities, they can complement their work, minimise duplication, leading to more efficient deployment of resources, and create more coherent pathways for users of multiple services. Great examples of collaboration include signposting, strategic alliances, partnerships and networks formed around a cause in common.

So how might collaborating with another charity help your organisation?

 

Increase reach & fundraising potential

Most charities need to ensure they have the capacity to raise funds in order to secure the resources needed to deliver their work. It makes economic sense to pool resources around this objective. Working in a collaborative way with like-minded charities can enable those participating to reach a wider audience through their respective networks.

Charities could consider pooling marketing budgets to deliver joint fundraising campaigns. However, it would be important to agree, up front, how funds would be distributed once raised. This approach could be extended to joint fundraising events. Funders are often seeking a consortia of organisations to bid for funding for specific projects. This would be a great opportunity for a charity to collaborate with others to submit a proposal for funding. In this situation it is important to know key information about all members of the consortium and the value that your organisation adds to this collaboration.

 

Share knowledge & best practice

Sharing knowledge and best practice well within an organisation and across the charity sector is a powerful tool. Strong collaboration in these areas will drive better use of resources and expertise, this will also underpin how training and skills development evolves. It is apparent that through and beyond the pandemic, charities have new skills and knowledge to contend with such as digital fundraising, remote working, community outreach, etc. It is in everyone’s best interest that we share intelligence on ways of adapting and innovation as the call on charity services increases substantially.

Improve efficiency

As challenging as this time has been for charities, it has been even more challenging for users of their services and for those who have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19, both directly and indirectly. We must collaborate and do all that we can to provide clear and simple signposting for beneficiaries to access the services and support that they need.

It is important that charities and local networks of charities focused around cause areas build a platform of trust to serve their communities in this way. Embracing their own areas of expertise and understanding how the work of other organisations complement them will provide the foundation for a trusted collaboration.

 

Cut expenditure

Collaboration is the ideal opportunity to benefit from economies of scale by pooling financial resources to purchase equipment of services. Any savings realised can potentially be redirected towards the benefits of end users or further achievement of mission.

One useful resource is the Charities Buying Group, which offers a range of buying agreements, and Can Mezzanine and Impact Hub offer coworking spaces and other resources for non-profit organisations and social enterprises.

Radical collaboration amongst charities must have a strong foundation of trust, with alignment around vision, purpose and the needs of beneficiaries at its core. It will take commitment from all parties to make the collaboration work, but the benefits are worthwhile when done properly: greater efficiency, agility, higher rates of productivity and a collective voice of representation on behalf of stakeholders. Working in this way can be very rewarding, but organisations must ensure that the financial and other costs required are clear from the start, with all participants agreed on the objectives to be achieved.