When organisations with a common aim work together, they can cut costs, improve outcomes and reduce duplication. Collaboration is of particular importance to smaller charities who are looking for ways to create a sustainable long term future.
It is important to stay on track, collaborations must help the organisations involved to deliver their vision and mission, which is why it is important to seek out others with shared values and missions. You can read the research report conducted by the FSI on charity collaboration here.
This blog was inspired by the Charity Meetup a charity event in October 2016 (sponsored by CharityConnect) which was themed around creating a culture of collaboration, watch the panel discussion here. This post explores in more detail some of the key benefits associated with such collaboration.
Here are 5 ways charities can benefit from collaborating with each other:
1 – Improve awareness of your cause and increase fundraising
By working together you can double your reach and both organisations gain greater exposure and kudos.
Reaching more people is especially relevant to small charities when over a third of people cannot name a local charity in their area, and one in 10 have never donated to any charity, local or otherwise. Pooling marketing budgets to focus on one campaign can help you to be able to reach your target audience.
2 – Learn and Share New Skills
Networking or clubbing together with other charities to be able to access training charities can really benefit. Learning from peers at events or online can help you to improve your skillset. You can even help to create more skills sharing within your organisation by running lunch and learn sessions with your colleagues.
Events:Charity Meetup, Specialist Facebook groups for PR Comms and Fundraising, CharityConnect, Barcampnfp + November event, NFPTweetup, Small Charities Coalition – mentoring, training and resources, The FSI, Social Media Exchange.
Example: The Calthorpe Project asked me to offer one day training, they invited two partner organisations to join them Kentish Town City Farm and Bloomsbury Beginnings this was beneficial for building their relationship but also enriched the training session itself.
3 – Innovate and Grow
Perhaps you could offer a new service if you began working with another charity? By combining your skills, resources and knowledge you can help solve problems and increase your impact. You may want to work together on a joint funding bid which together you could deliver, and alone you could not fulfill.
Why collaboration is important – The Guardian
Focus on building strong relationships – Lucidity
Confident and collaborative teams achieve better results – Royal London Society for Blind People
HP case study
Black history month case study
4 – Gain Sponsorship and Support
The opportunity to partner with businesses should not be overlooked, whether it is getting volunteer support or trustees who can help your organisation grow, one off donations or becoming a charity of the year there are a wide variety of ways to work with a business. The key to this is to find organisations that have shared values and that align with yours and finding win-win opportunities to work together. Consider starting small and building up to more formal activities and fundraising asks.
Further reading: How to successfully collaborate with corporates – Guest Blog by Maite Caballero Tomàs
Charity Times Award winners
Corporate partnership announcements on UK Fundraising
Aviva and The Railway Children Case Study.
5 – SaveMoney and Build Resilience
By working with another charity there may be ways that you can save money. For example you might decide to share an office space to reduce overheads, you might pool funding to buy equipment such as cameras and share on a rota basis. The Charities Buying Group helps charities save money when making purchases.
Running charity events as a group can also be especially good as all elements are then shared, reducing costs but also time and resources required. By reducing and sharing costs it can help your organisation to become more sustainable in the long term.
Example: The Buckinghamshire Funding Group is a partnership between Local Authorities and Voluntary Sector organisations that provide funding or fundraising ideas in Buckinghamshire. Each year the group coordinates the Bucks Funding Fair which is free for charities to attend because of this collaboration.
If you want to encourage your organisations to collaborate here are some things you can do.
Put collaboration as a recurring meeting agenda item at work
Do a quick audit of organisations you are already linked with, are there collaboration opportunities?
Talk to people you work with about inspiring examples of collaboration (see above)
Go to events where you can meet others you might be able to collaborate with
If you want ideas and tools to help you collaborate read the NCVO resources on collaboration