Poor collaboration has ‘broken down trust between charities’, a report has warned

A report has warned that some charity partnerships are being marred by a lack of trust.

Smaller charities are not given fair funding when linking up with other charities.

In addition, partners involved have not ben included in key decisions and some organisations involved have bid in collaboration, despite lacking the experience needed for the work involved.

The findings have emerged in findings from the NCVO, ACEVO and Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales project Rebalancing the Relationship.

This is the result of 18-months of research into collaborative practice, involving the views of more than 200 charities of all sizes.

“The research found examples of positive collaborative behaviours, such as local staff being empowered to develop partnerships, charities not bidding for a service if a local organisation is already delivering it well, and larger charities building the capacity of smaller organisations,” said researchers.

“However, it also heard of negative experiences of poor collaboration having broken down trust between charities. Examples included unfair distribution of funds to smaller charities, not including partners in decision-making, and organisations bidding without the necessary local knowledge or experience to deliver services well.”

The report calls for collaboration in contracting among charities to be ethical, fair, open and innovative in finding ways organisations involved can help each other.

There should also be a “collaborative organisational culture” nurtured within the sector, its researchers said.

“This report clearly demonstrates that collaborative, generous leadership is more essential than ever for voluntary organisations and the people we work with to thrive,” said ACEVO chief executive Vicky Browning.

“While the report identifies clear ways in which the competitive commissioning environment needs to change, there are also positive opportunities for leaders to create collaborative cultures – for example, listening to staff, working with boards to manage risk, and taking a nuanced approach to growth.

“By focusing on delivering quality not quantity of services, leaders can drive better outcomes for communities at a time when charities are never more needed.”

NCVO interim chief executive Sarah Vibert added: “During the pandemic, collaboration and partnership have become the default way of working. Voluntary sector organisations of all sizes collaborated quickly, willingly and effectively to get people the help they need.

"This collaboration has supported the deployment of millions of volunteers and has enabled charities to be agile in responding to changing community needs."

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