Federated charities: A briefing paper for charities

A federated charity consists of one central and two or more local organisations that operate under a single identity. This paper aims to help federated charities, trustees, and funders think through the implications of a federated structure—to leverage its strengths, mitigate its risks and maximise social impact.

Based on interviews with federated charities, desk research and discussions at a seminar held by NPC and The Clothworkers’ Company for trustees of federated charities, this paper sets out the core issues faced by federated structures.

In the current climate, in which charities are under pressure from many sides, it is timely to ask where such structures offer advantages, where they present risks, and how these can be best managed.

The complexity of these organisational structures presents a challenge for donors and funders trying to understand the effectiveness and impact of both individual charities and the movement as a whole.

The foreword by Tris Lumley, Director of Development at NPC, suggests that federated structures have the potential to offer a solution to the challenges facing charities today which stem in some way from a polarisation between localism and scale.