Collaborating for a cause

How cause-related networks multiply the impact of philanthropy

With the charity sector now facing perhaps its greatest test yet, philanthropists can multiply the impact of their giving by teaming together around common causes. Click To Tweet

At NPC we’ve been researching the potential of cause-related networks to grow the value and impact of philanthropy. With needs growing and resources shrinking, maximising the impact of philanthropy is more important than ever.

Cause-related networks offer unique opportunities to increase and improve philanthropic giving.

  • They motivate people to give more and better
  • They strengthen people’s capability to give
  • They create and facilitate opportunities to give

The unique benefits of cause-related networks stem from:

  • Their focus on a cause
  • The independence of philanthropy
  • The advantages of a network

Taken together, these advantages mean philanthropic funding can be more effective if philanthropists are aligned around a shared understanding of a cause and if the power of peer networks are harnessed.


Cause-related networks can look very different depending on the cause and the members of a network. What determines effectiveness is how a network is developed and run. Effective networks are grounded in robust data and evidence, they take a system-wide approach, they are informed by lived experiences and diverse perspectives, they draw on up-to-date information about the cause and about philanthropy, they develop a strong understanding of intended and existing members.

Networks that are more likely to achieve positive impact for their members, the funding community, and the cause which they seek to serve when they are:

  • Focused on providing value to members
  • Flexible
  • Built on trust and respect
  • Inclusive and accessible
  • Embedded in the cause
  • Transparent and accountable

Our research was funded by Beacon Collaborative in support of their effort to attract £2 billion more in donations to good causes and social investment by 2025. 

Cause-related networks offer unique opportunities for impactful giving. By independently bringing philanthropists together around one goal, they motivate people to give more and better, strengthening people’s capabilities and creating opportunities to give. Our research found that networks are most effective when they are inclusive, trusted, and embedded in the issue they seek to solve.

Katie Boswell

Associate Director (Strategy and Leadership), NPC