Cuts make it harder for local charities to work together, says Navca's Neil Cleeveley

Warning comes as more charities consider setting up forums to discuss collaboration

Neil Cleeveley, director of policy and communications at Navca
Neil Cleeveley, director of policy and communications at Navca

Funding cuts have made it harder for local charities to collaborate at a time when doing so is becoming more important for their survival, according to the umbrella body Navca.

Neil Cleeveley, director of policy and communications at Navca, told Third Sector the current funding environment had increased the need for collaboration among charities, something the "smartest organisations" always saw as necessary to make funding go further.

"Helping local groups work together to increase efficiency and maximise their impact is a fundamental role for Navca members," he said. "However, this work is coming under strain as our members have their budgets cut."

Cleeveley was responding to questions from Third Sector about growing numbers of charity forums being set up to discuss collaboration.  

For example, Laura Irving, senior corporate and events fundraiser at Clatterbridge Cancer Research, said it was looking into setting up a forum for charities in the Merseyside and Cheshire area that would meet quarterly.  

"Through this forum we can share ideas, discuss issues that affect us all and even start to work together," she said. She said she had noticed an "emerging trend of causes working together".

Peter Lewis, chief executive of the London Voluntary Service Council, said money should not be an issue when charities wanted to work together.

"If you can improve services for your beneficiaries by collaborating, you should do that irrespective of whether you have the money," he said.

Lewis said collaboration within the sector was not new but that more of it had been happening recently.

"This is because organisations are thinking more about their impact and how they can best deliver to their service users," he said. "And because of the cuts there’s a driver to work out if there’s a more efficient way of doing things.

Cath Lee, chief executive of the Small Charities Coalition, said she had heard anecdotal evidence of increasing collaboration in the sector. She said the most challenging part of working together was in fundraising.

"When it comes to money, the organisations have to be grown-up to collaborate," she said. "It’s clearly tricky, but they have to put the beneficiary first.

"If there’s going to be less money to go around, they are going to have to work together and perhaps bid for funds jointly."

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