At Work: Fundraising - Funding story - Collaborative working

Radhika Holmstrom

When it comes to funding, more charities are starting to look at the opportunities presented by joining forces on projects.

'Collaborative working' is one of those things that most charities say they support but many find difficult to achieve in practice. Going it alone isn't always an option, though, and that includes funding.

"We're very supportive of collaborative funding, and we've looked at different models for it," says Linda Kelly, chief executive of the Lloyds TSB Foundation. "Some are collaborations of equals - organisations of similar size that focus on different issues. Others involve lead agencies co-ordinating other agencies; and others are collaborations in which organisations that can't afford to do a whole piece of work can come up with a joint project that suits everyone. In the past five years, we've funded just over £8m-worth of projects, with an average grant of £43,000."

That included a grant to BTCV for a research project with the Black Environment Network and the Evaluation Trust to examine the impact of environmental volunteering on BME communities. Another grant went to a partnership between community groups and the police in West Gateshead to address crime-related problems there. The Nationwide Foundation is exploring similar models as part of its New Generation Initiative, a five-year programme of funding for five charities working under the broad heading of 'parenting'.

The difficulty, of course, is that people have to want to collaborate.

The enforced proximity of a collaboration can produce some unexpected results, however.

Anne McTiernan, head of fundraising at Home-Start UK, which received funding for a joint project from Nationwide's New Generation Initiative, says: "It helped us to work with theatre company M6, which we'd never have done otherwise. Among other things, it produced a 10-minute video for us, which is now an extremely popular and valuable part of the training we do for Home-Start volunteers. And because we were working with other, smaller charities we could support and advise them on issues where we have experience and they haven't." Kelly says: "I don't think it'll replace funding for specific projects or charities, but it's a trend we want to go on pursuing."

It looks as if even more people are going to have to be nice about their partner organisations in future.

- See At Work Partnerships, page 29.

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