Collaboration: More than the sum of the parts
More and more people are turning to small charities to solve some of the most difficult issues facing society today, whether that be the needs of children, young people or older people, whether that be homelessness, addiction, rehabilitation of offenders or the environment. Whatever the problem many of the solutions are held in the collective knowledge and expertise of smaller charities. It is therefore vitally important that small charities take the lead in sharing their knowledge and expertise.
Collaborating more effectively can not only help to solve social problems but can also facilitate efficiency, growth and sustainability. Through working together we can build a stronger and more able Small Charity Sector. We acknowledge that collaborations are by no means easy, they can be delicate and complex to navigate, and when they fail can have severe consequences both on the services provided and the reputations and financial stability of the charities involved. Therefore charities who seek to collaborate must be clear on the social purpose for collaboration and take all steps necessary to ensure success.
This research looks at the different types (or levels) of collaboration. 708 charities responded to the research with 66% reporting some form of collaboration, leaving 34% undertaking no collaboration. Networking was the most common form of collaboration, with 90% of those responding taking part in networking activities. Mergers, not surprisingly, were the least common type of collaboration with less than 5% of those involved in some form of collaboration being part of a merger.
Download to have a read of the full report here.
• 66% of respondents are currently involved in some form of collaboration
• Networking is the most common type of collaboration with over 90% of those involved in some form of collaboration taking part in networking
• Mergers are the least common type of collaboration with less than 5% of those involved in some form of collaboration being part of a merger.
• 65% of all respondents currently take part in networking
• 60% of those taking part in networking spend less than 10% of their time networking at external events
• Over 80% of those networking report ‘networking with other charities’ and ‘networking with organisations working in the same field as the charity’
• Less than 50% of those networking report ‘networking with the business community’ and ‘networking with people who hold a similar level staff position to me’
• Over 75% of those networking reported it ‘helps me make connections that are useful for the charity’, ‘increases my knowledge of opportunities available for the charity’ and ‘raises awareness of the charity’ in the top three benefits received from networking
• ‘Allows me to influence others on behalf of the charity’ is the lowest reported benefit
• A higher proportion of those charities who network with ‘the business community’ and ‘people who hold a similar staff level’ report ‘influencing others’ as one of their top three benefits of networking.
• 39% of all respondents are part of a strategic alliance
• 59% of those in a strategic alliance spend less than 10% of their time delivering against the strategic alliance
• There is a strong positive correlation between the amount of time spent on delivering the strategic alliance and the proportion of services covered by the strategic alliance (0.7)
• 89% of those in a strategic alliance spend the same amount of time or less delivering against the strategic alliance than the proportion of services covered by the strategic alliance
• The majority of strategic alliances cover delivery of services (72%)
• Almost half of respondents have no formal arrangement in place to support the strategic alliance (46%)
• ‘Shared knowledge/expertise’ is the most common benefit reported by those in a strategic alliance (33%).
• 28% of all respondents are currently part of a formal partnership
• 20% of all respondents have a history of working in a formal partnership
• ‘Better ability to secure funding/contracts’ is the most common driver for entering into a formal partnership (46%)
• The median amount of time respondents have currently been in a formal partnership is 2 years
• ‘Ability to better meet the needs of a shared beneficiary group’ is the most common tangible benefit reported by those in a formal partnership (63%)
• ‘Funding bodies can potentially favour charities working in Partnership/Consortium’ is the most common intangible benefit reported by those in a formal partnership (62%)
• 51% of those in a formal partnership reported some form of saving generated
• The median saving generated as a result of being in a formal partnership is £9,500 per annum (n=20)
• 74% of those in a formal partnership reported an improved experience for beneficiaries
• ‘Formal/Written agreement’ is reported as the most common safeguard to ensure the formal partnership agreement is a positive experience.
• 6% of all respondents are currently undertaking a joint venture
• ‘Greater financial reward’ is the most common tangible benefit reported by those in a joint venture (45%)
• ‘Increased awareness of charity’ is the most common intangible benefit reported by those in a joint venture (68%).
Mergers: Charities currently part of a merger
• 3% of all respondents are currently part of a merger
• ‘Improved services to our user group’ is the most common tangible benefit reported by those in a merger (64%)
• 4 out of the 5 charities reporting a ‘complex’ merger process reported ‘clear communication’ and ‘clear roles/ responsibilities’ as key pieces of advice they would give to other charities considering a merger
• Over 50% of mergers cost less than £20k.
Mergers: Charities considering merging with another organisation
• Of those not currently in a merger 2% are considering a merger
• 15 out of the 16 respondents considering a merger reported ‘securing additional funding/increasing sustainability’ as one of the drivers for considering a merger
• 8 out of the 16 respondents considering a merger reported ‘financial issues’ as one of the barriers stopping the merger from moving forward.
Have a read of our press release about the research here.