With the exception of 4,000 City workers, the financial picture's tough for everyone. The public sector hits out at pocket money pay rises, and the third sector keeps a watchful eye on everything from fundraising costs to investment returns.
In this context, I wonder why more charities don't consider the practical benefits of partnership working. In some cases, it can conjure office space out of nothing.
I know a charity that's making the most of this approach. It has effectively given itself a cut-price London satellite office by taking a low-rate tenancy in a shared NGO office. It also has a reciprocal arrangement with another charity to provide IT back-up that costs both organisations nothing and works well. Although many charities can't afford even a cut-price additional base, these types of reciprocal back-office arrangements can make a big difference in other ways.
Consider loaning your PR-minded trustee to a neighbouring charity for their fundraising mailing in return for their incredibly efficient coordinator's help with your community events. Or share support services, as some hospices do: maintaining separate identities continues to bring them strong local support while allowing them to work as effectively as they can with the finite resources they have.
When you start looking at the back-room resources that make your charity's front-line services possible, there's likely to be greater scope for developing partnership working than you think. Everything can save you cash, from sharing transport and fundraising expenses to bulk-buying to reduce stationery budgets.
Charities are unlikely to receive million-pound bonuses any time soon, but partnership working can help you make the most of what you've got.