Companies and charities are increasingly working with multiple partners to form consortia rather than in exclusive partnerships, according to a new report.
It says that almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of participants said they had moved beyond bilateral partnerships into consortia partnerships with multiple organisations.
Such a move was more common among companies than NGOs, with 67 per cent involved in consortia, compared with 58 per cent of NGOs.
Respondents identified combined scale and reach, added value, and additional know-how as reasons for the move, and the majority of organisations surveyed – 75 per cent of NGOs and 63 per cent of corporates – said they expected to see a rise in the number of consortia in the next few years.
Manny Amadi, chief executive of C&E Advisory, said: "The growth of multi-organisational, consortia-based partnerships is a clear sign of the maturing of the responsible business agenda.
"Both corporations and NGOs are recognising the greater reach, impact and value provided by this model of partnering, as companies and NGOs work together to tackle an array of major common issues, ranging from climate change and waste to obesity and sustainable supply chains."
But both NGOs and corporates identified similar challenges in working with multiple partners: the complexity of aligning multiple parties, the slower pace of development and progress, and the challenges of building trust between all partners were all key concerns.
Amadi said: "The benefits of consortia-based corporate-NGO partnering are likely to outweigh their inherent challenges.
"However, the perceived value of such partnerships can be truly realised only through effective planning and skilful navigation of real and often substantive challenges."
As in previous years, NGOs entering partnerships said they were driven primarily by the opportunity to access funds, with 98 per cent identifying it as a key motivation. Businesses continued to list their key reason for engagement as enhancing brand or corporate reputation and credibility, a response given by 96 per cent, up by four percentage points on last year.
The barometer reveals that the partnership between the retailer Marks & Spencer and Oxfam was voted Most Admired Corporate-NGO Partnership for the sixth year running, with 9 per cent of the votes. The partnership between the retailer Boots and Macmillan Cancer Support came in second with 8 per cent.
For the first year a consortia arrangement made it into the top contenders for the most admired partnership, with the Tesco/Diabetes UK/British Heart Foundation partnership among the five nominees in joint third place.