How to collaborate with other charities

Collaborating with other charitable organisations can be a really valuable way to improve your efficiency levels, enhance your services and ultimately make a greater difference to the lives of your beneficiaries. 

But you’ll need to consider the best approach to partnering or working with other charities and non-profits, especially at such a challenging time for the sector. Certain measures should be in place before you embark on you partnership.

Sharing her insights on cross-charity collaboration, Caroline Mallan, Head of External Affairs at CAF, talks us through the different types of collaboration and how you should approach collaborating with another charity for an effective partnership. 


What does collaboration amongst charities mean?

  • Video transcript

    What does collaboration in the charity sector mean for you?

    It’s a collaboration amongst charities but for me it means lots and lots of different things. First of all, I think there’s one aspect which is purely around the audience: the beneficiary groups. Quite often this is at community level, local level and lots of different types of organisations coalescing around those audiences and those beneficiaries and those community groups.

    And there’s informal and formal - lots of different ways of making that work. There’s formal types of arrangements and partnerships where it's about funding, about specific programme impacts - incredibly exciting and again that can be at a local level or national level.

    And lastly - and more often - there’s lots of informal collaboration where it’s about just signposting, sharing information, sharing skills, sharing knowledge. And that can be at a local level, a national level, or an international level.


What are some of the ways charities are collaborating?

  • Video transcript
    What are some of the ways charities are collaborating?

    So how are we seeing charities collaborating and what can we learn from their success? I think the learning bit is going to have to come, we aren’t seeing lots of case studies and evidence of real collaboration with charities in terms of their work and their programming aspects. 

    What we are certainly seeing is a huge amount of collaboration and outreach, information sharing, knowledge, best practice, learning around how to run your organisation in a lockdown scenario. 

    Whether that’s employees working from home, what technology is free and available to use, how to adapt your outreach to communities. So that learning is coming out hugely - and it’s global which is fascinating. 

    We’re certainly seeing funders wanting more collaboration. I think the big thing there that we’re going to have to take onboard is to constantly remind ourselves not to only concentrate on the potential of funding at a very difficult time, but really think about our beneficiaries and our mission and how those two things match up. So difficult choices and possibly the idea of saying no to money at the moment.

    And lastly, I think what we are seeing is a huge amount of collaboration on the fundraising side, so the 2.6 challenge (which replaced the London Marathon), Giving Tuesday Now - lots of different initiatives where fundraisers of different organisations up and down the country are coming together to collaborate to boost unrestricted funding, which is fantastic and greatly needed.


How should you approach collaborating with another charity

  • Video transcript

    As with any partnership, it’s about communication, it’s about understanding one another’s needs, it’s about being certain from the get go, as with any relationship, that you are on the same page, that you’re after the same things, that everyone is very clear of expectations. In some instances, that might require legal advice. It might be worth spending a little bit more time, potentially a little bit of money to make sure that you’re ready to work together, that you both know what you’re after, what the outcomes are. That’s when it’s formalised, if it’s a procurement arrangement or something like that. If it’s informal, I think it’s again all down to communication - a clear understanding, everybody in the room knows what they’re doing, keep in touch with one another. There’s a really good example that’s come out in the past year of sharing of information around grants. 360 Giving keeps track of grants that have been given. I think that’s a fabulous example of grantmaking organisations, including Charities Aid Foundation, have fed in to this free common portal so that people can go and look and see cause areas that perhaps might be overlooked, might need extra support, if you’re a funder and you’re looking to partner with a charity. So I think there’s so many avenues, it all starts with open communication.



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