Charity Commission urges collaboration to beat recession

Merger advice among package of help for small charities to stay solvent

The Charity Commission is to consider giving charities advice on making the "hard decision" to collaborate with other organisations.

Andrew Hind, chief executive of the commission, told its open board meeting last week that all charities had a responsibility to think regularly about whether they could become more effective by collaborating with others.

His proposal to give merger advice came during a discussion on Economic Survey of Charities, a commission document released earlier this month.

The report found that only 3 per cent of charities had considered collaborating with another charity or merging.

Hind urged charities to focus on their "distinctive" contribution. "They should think about stopping some activity that has grown over time but is of secondary importance to their core rationale of why they are a charity in the first place," he said.

He said promoting such thinking should be the centrepiece of a model board agenda the commission is producing to help trustees of small charities deal with the effects of the recession.

The paper will give advice on ensuring charities remain solvent, make effective use of their resources and have "sound and robust" governance procedures.

The commission board also endorsed a suggestion that it should encourage trustees to think about opportunities arising from recession, such as a wider pool of volunteers.

Hind agreed to look into setting up a panel of charities to provide the commission with rapid feedback on the effects of the recession. He said the regulator had also commissioned research into the response to the recession of grant-making trusts and foundations, and whether charity trustees were taking a strategic approach to fundraising and planning.
Some board members called for data collected in the next economic survey, due to be released in the summer, to give results by region and purpose of each charity, as well as their income. One, Theo Sowa, said: "If you look only at income, you could miss some important trends."

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