At Work: Partnerships - Collaborators - Non-profits working together - ChangeUp consortia join forces

Mathew Little

A single funding bid in London signals the sector 'taking responsibility for itself'.

While the voluntary sector may speak the language of co-operation, the sentiment is frequently lost in the Darwinian battle for funding.

But the London Regional ChangeUp Consortium is testimony to the fact that charities can transcend short-sighted self-interest in deciding where government funds should go.

Each of the 39 ChangeUp consortia in the capital could have submitted individual bids to access some of the £2m available from Capacitybuilders for infrastructure development. But they decided to co-operate on a single bid, which incorporates infrastructure support for areas such as equality, volunteering, social enterprise and IT.

"This is an excellent example of what can be achieved with collaborative working across the sector," says Julia Kaufman, board member and grants committee chair at Capacitybuilders. "London has a third of all the ChangeUp consortia, and they all worked together extremely well."

Under the plan, the London-wide consortium, not Capacitybuilders, will decide the destiny of the money - a situation different from many other UK regions.

The consortium itself represents 39 ChangeUp consortia in London. Of these, 32 are in local boroughs, led by councils for voluntary service or volunteer bureaux. Five are sub-regional and represent the infrastructure needs of south, north, east, west and central London.

One regional committee determines projects for the capital as a whole.

The £2m funding will be divided among them.

According to Dinah Cox, chief executive of Race on the Agenda and a member of the pan-London regional consortium, conflict was kept to a minimum.

"We've managed to get on very well, overcome any disputes or difficulties and find a way to work across the whole of the sector in London," she says. "There was debate, but it was resolved in an amicable fashion."

The consortium is implementing a London Infrastructure Development Plan, designed to ensure the capital has world class infrastructure support by 2014. The ChangeUp funding is just one part of this.

"The point is that this is the sector taking responsibility for itself," says Cox.

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