Pandemic has boosted effectiveness of collaboration between organisations, research finds

The pandemic has accelerated more effective collaboration between charities and local authorities during the pandemic, according to new research.

Charity think tank New Philanthropy Capital tracked three local authority areas – Buckinghamshire, Coventry and Sutton – across a six-month period to learn how place-based coordination is changing.

Researchers analysed the shift toward more collaboration between national government, local government, funders, and civil society organisations.

NPC interviewed co-ordinators from each area, along with other key stakeholders, to help understand what has worked and where more support is needed. 

It identified three themes that need to be addressed to sustain the progress made on collaborative working during Covid-19.

First, the report said funding new and existing partnerships between charities and local authorities would help maintain energy and focus while working at a sustainable pace.

In addition, communities should be meaningfully engaged in planning, delivering and evaluating projects, and the sharing and collection of data between councils, charities, community groups, and social enterprises should be improved to support co-ordinated action.

Nicola Pritchard, a senior consultant at NPC who led the research, said the report identified how place-based approaches have advanced years in just a few months. 

She said: “Local action has been central to the story of the pandemic with people looking out for neighbours, mutual aid groups springing up, and councils and local groups working closely together to support their communities in more unified and efficient ways. 

“Charities, funders, and government are now at a key turning point as we begin to see beyond the immediate crisis.

“We could see a return of previous power dynamics and siloed working, unless we take conscious steps to keep up the momentum in a sustainable way, working together to maintain the trust that has developed between different organisations locally.”

Pritchard said this momentum needs to be sustained by charities, funders, and policy-makers sharing a clear focus.

Research published last month by NPC found that charities are unlikely to receive much of the funding earmarked through the government’s “levelling up” agenda because there are fewer charities in areas where the fund is targeted.

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