Large and small charities should collaborate more to seek funding and contracts in the light of cuts announced in the comprehensive spending review, according to Andrew Hind, the former chief executive of the Charity Commission.
Giving the Charity Trustee Networks annual lecture, Hind said: "How uplifting it would be if many more of our largest charities went out of their way to bid for service delivery contracts in a true spirit of partnership with local, grass-roots organisations."
He also called for local authorities procuring services from charities to give precedence to bids from partnerships between large and smaller, local organisations.
Hind, who left the commission in September, said that although some rivalry in the voluntary sector was welcome and unavoidable, it was too often assumed that "the success of charities is a zero-sum game – that what one charity gains, another charity loses.
"I think the reverse is actually the case: charities benefit from each others' success."
He said he would like to see the development of "systematic one-to-one links between experienced trustees of established charities and those of smaller organisations". Hind called this "a sort of ‘buddy’ or exchange system".
But a charity lawyer called Hind’s plans for greater collaboration unrealistic.
James Sinclair Taylor, head of the charity team at law firm Russell-Cooke, told Third Sector that Hind’s ideas on funding did not "face up to the realities of the situation on the ground".
He said it did not take into account how many funders asked for specific outcomes and that sometimes smaller charities were not "terribly brilliant" at providing this evidence.
"The larger charities will be taking on the risk that they won’t be able to achieve what the funder wants," he said.
Sinclair Taylor said that if outcomes were not achieved, funders might then try to claw back money from the larger charities.