Collaborating for impact

Charities and commissioners increasingly see collaboration as a way to access new funding, grow and improve services. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. To avoid the risks, charities need to understand what makes collaboration a success. NPC and Impetus have joined forces to explore collaboration because we believe it has the potential to improve the sector’s collective impact.

The most complex problems—tackling inter-generational unemployment in families, rehabilitating offenders, equipping young people in care to lead fulfilling lives—cannot be solved by services that work in isolation. Partnering with other organisations—sharing people, expertise and operational models—can significantly increase social impact, whilst reducing inefficiencies and unnecessary duplication across the sector. It can also help successful charities to grow, allowing proven interventions to reach more people. Changes to government commissioning are also driving the collaboration agenda: in order to compete for public service delivery, charities need to be collaboration-ready.

However, collaborations can be tricky to navigate; failure can lead to poor quality work, damage to reputation, high financial costs and loss of intellectual property or relationships. Given these risks, it is important that charities consider collaboration with care, and don’t rush into it just to please commissioners.

In this report, we highlight some of the less talked-about issues that connect collaboration with social impact. These include putting beneficiaries at the heart of collaboration, understanding the financial impact of collaboration, and considering how organisational culture—attitudes, beliefs and approaches to conflict—can affect the chances of success. Successful collaborations require an investment of time and money, but the potential results make it worthwhile.

 Every organisation that wants to be sure it is making the greatest possible difference should be thinking about collaboration.

Angela Kail, report author

Follow responses to the launch on Twitter #Collab4impact