Checklist: Communicating with your rivals

By governance expert Rodney Buse

Rodney Buse
Rodney Buse

Can it be morally justified for two or more charities that provide services for a similar group of potential beneficiaries to choose not to talk to one another? There is so much that can be achieved by greater cooperation between rivals.

There are still charity trustees who believe the success of their organisation is of foremost importance. They reject the idea that success is measured by the benefits received by the community they serve, and fail to recognise that those benefits may come from a number of different sources.

Trustees are said to be the guardians of values. This demands that we all explore where the greatest value lies, particularly when we are all under pressure and face limited resources. It is often a mistake to assume that the greatest effectiveness arises from going it alone.

Boards should ask themselves why they are not talking to organisations serving similar beneficiaries in order to enhance the effectiveness of their charities. They should treat answers like "they are the competition" or "they are not like us" as unacceptable.

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