Charities should collaborate

Imaginative partnerships could result if charities combine office functions, says Chris Hanvey, director of operations at Barnardo's.

Chris Hanvey, director of operations, Barnardo's
Chris Hanvey, director of operations, Barnardo's

Much is made in the popular press about the number of UK charities. A tragedy is often followed by the launch of a campaign, charitable foundation or charity - putting energy into raising money to prevent similar misfortune can be cathartic.

But with 190,000 charities in the UK, having a combined income of £45bn and 900,000 trusteeships, do we really need any more?

One solution to this challenge could lie in sharing infrastructure costs. Is it really necessary for all medium-sized to large charities to have their own IT, HR, fundraising, media and finance teams? The answer to some of these questions might be a qualified yes. But for some functions, sharing costs between charities could be a logical solution.

Another response to this duplication could be for trusts and foundations to ally themselves with the Government. They could act as brokers because they assess thousands of applications each year.

Where two or three charities agreed to come together to, say, fund a shared piece of practical operational work or common infrastructure costs, the foundations would assess their application and put up some level of funding. The Government, in turn, would agree to contribute to or to match this. Government funding programmes could have as a requirement a combination of joint bids and trust or foundation-matched funding.

This would mean more cooperation between charities that perform similar functions. They would be assisted by the brokering done by the foundations, which routinely deal with many similar applications.

All sorts of imaginative partnerships could emerge, and the public would gain some assurance that charitable donations were going directly to deserving causes and not being spent on administration.

Chris Hanvey is director of operations at Barnardo's.

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