Regulation with Rosie: collaboration

The Charity Commission's Rosie Chapman on how charities could collaborate.

Despite occasional media accusations that there are just too many charities, we know that mergers aren't for everyone. But the scope for collaborative working is another issue altogether.

I wonder if collaborative working is always undertaken as imaginatively as it could be, particularly when it comes to campaigning. Here, the 'power of the multiplier' principle can be incredibly strong - think of the Disasters Emergency Committee or the Make Poverty History alliance. It's something more charities could use.

Charities working for particular groups - children with disabilities or older people, say - have their own areas of activity and there may be little overlap in the services they deliver. However, when it comes to campaigning, areas of common ground can be significant - whether it's awareness-raising, seeking legislative change or eliciting funding.

Whereas individual activities are defined by each charity's purposes and objects, a common campaigning theme or issue will apply to many more.

And even where a campaigning activity doesn't fit one member of the alliance, it has the option to opt out, as our guidance on campaigning explains.

Of course, charities need to be able to justify the use of resources for anything. But the pooling of resources, contacts, expertise and coverage can make them work harder. And although the initial reason for this type of collaboration may have been a specific campaigning focus, working together can lead to a whole range of mutual benefits, from sharing best practice to pooling and building data.

All campaigns have a shelf-life and the numbers reached and minds influenced will always be finite. But by applying the power of the multiplier charities can achieve a much greater impact than by individual action alone.

- See At Work Partnerships, page 27.

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