Guide Dogs spurns merger offer with 'excuses', Lesley-Anne Alexander says

Chief executive of RNIB says Guide Dogs is 'insular' and wrong to say getting together would damage fundraising

Lesley-Anne Alexander, chief executive of the RNIB
Lesley-Anne Alexander, chief executive of the RNIB

The RNIB is keen to merge with Guide Dogs but has been given excuses "that simply aren’t true" to avoid it, Lesley-Anne Alexander, chief executive of the RNIB, told an audience of senior charity executives last night.

At a Charity Leaders' Exchange event hosted by the networking organisation Knowledge Peers, Alexander said Guide Dogs had refused offers of a merger or more collaborative working because it feared it would harm its fundraising profile.

"It would be lovely to merge with Guide Dogs," she said. "My trustees are open to any suggestion for making the sight-loss world a better place.

"I have nothing to criticise Guide Dogs about, but it’s a very insular organisation. They’ve put up reasons that simply aren’t true about why we can’t get it together.

"They say ‘we can’t get together because it might damage fundraising'. If you bring together two organisations with the right marketing and the right information for donors, you don’t lose fundraising income."

Alexander said her organisation had pursued collaborations and mergers with nine other charities so far, and that she wanted to do more. She said that there were 733 charities in the sight-loss sector, and this was too many.

"I didn’t believe that figure when I heard it," she said. "Collaboration was imperative, because we were confusing blind and partially sighted people."

A spokesman for Guide Dogs said it would make a statment in due course. In a video published on the Knowledge Peers website today, Guide Dogs chief executive Richard Leaman said:"Generally speaking, collaboration should not involve acquisition and merger. It means working together to achieve shared objectives."

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