Prince William has called on charities to collaborate more and for those who set up new charities to consider whether they could work under an existing organisation.
Speaking at the Charity Commission’s annual public meeting, which was held at the Royal Institution in London this morning, the second in line to the throne said he wondered if more could be done to explore ways of combining forces instead of forming new charities.
"I do wonder at times if the compassion which leads people to set up or maintain charities could not be equally well directed at first finding opportunities to work with existing charities," he said.
He said competition for funds between an "ever-growing number of charities", and the confusion it could cause among donors, could lead to expertise not being shared and "at worst, territorial behaviour".
He said: "I know that this message is not always easy to hear: charities exist because those who work and volunteer for them each believe passionately in its importance. And they are right to do so.
"But as the challenges of the future begin to bear down on us, I believe that this big shift must begin to happen – the sector must be open to collaborate, to share expertise and resources, to focus less on individual interests and more on the benefits that working together will bring.
"That, I believe, is where the future lies."
The prince said he had been encouraged by examples of charities being willing to work together, such as the merger of Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer.
He said charities were of central importance to society and it was vital that they succeeded. But he warned: "To succeed, you need to hold yourself open to account and to have critical friends.
"Some of the challenges you face are already well rehearsed. Finding more money in a shrinking pot is an existential threat to charities’ survival. Yet survive you must."
He said he and his brother Harry had been actively encouraging greater collaboration between charities, as demonstrated by the Heads Together mental health campaign, which involves eight charities.
"We want to support the charitable sector just as much as generations of our family before, but the model of how we do this will continue to evolve as much in the future as it has in the past," said William.
He paid tribute to the charity work carried out by his parents and their desire to instil in him and his brother the importance of charity.
"My family have not done this because it looks good," he said. "They do it because charity is not an optional extra in society.
"We believe that, above anything else, charities nurture, repair, build and sustain our society. Without the work that charities do, society would be an empty shell."