The Office of the Third Sector should continue to fund collaboration and mergers in the voluntary sector beyond the end of its Modernisation Fund, according to two sector umbrella bodies that deal with small charities.
The £16.5m fund for collaboration and mergers, announced in February as part of the Government's plan to help the sector through the recession, will end next March. Other planks are the Targeted Support Fund - a grants fund of £15m and £500,000 for other purposes - and the £8m volunteer brokerage scheme.
Kevin Curley, chief executive of local umbrella body Navca, said the Government should provide support for collaborative working in the medium term and spend any money left over from the other programmes on the Modernisation Fund. "Organisations cannot tackle this quickly - they have to carry their members, trustees and volunteers," he said.
Nigel Newton Sawyerr, collaboration manager at community umbrella body Bassac, said the start of the fund had been "a rush" and had chiefly benefited organisations that had already decided to collaborate. "Most hadn't anticipated the recession and the need to do something around collaboration," he said. "It takes a long time to move from wanting to collaborate to making it happen."