Championing collaborations (Guest Post)

| 28th Nov 14

In this guest post, Helen Wills, Group Director of Enterprise and Investment at the First Ark Group, which includes investment charity One Ark, addresses the third sector’s need for more collaborative partnerships with like-minded organisations.

As investors of change, the main driver of any charitable organisation should be to improve the lives and circumstances of the people and environments they choose to support. However, funding restrictions and cuts can often leave organisations feeling the pinch, which in turn can have an impact on efficiencies and achieving objectives.

A way of tackling this issue is to be bold and change the approach to a project or campaign; don’t simply invest in something because it will have a surface impact, but instead work together with likeminded partners to deliver measurable outcomes that will contribute to positive change.

However, before change becomes realistic, resilience is needed – especially within our communities. We need to empower people to challenge the effects of situations such as the economic downturn and welfare reforms by taking opportunities to innovate. We can do this by investing in programmes that deliver high social, charitable, economic and financial value returns. Subsequently, this will promote choice and responsibility, reduce dependency and inspire and support people to grasp opportunities.

In order to instil a sustainable sense of resilience, organisations themselves must have strong governance and be fluid, flexible and responsive, and the best way to achieve this is through partnerships. It is my belief that collaborative partnerships in the third sector have suffered  in recent years due to a reduction in public sector grant based funding, but if we came together to exploit our different capabilities and strengths, we’d in fact attract higher levels of targeted funding and maximise the potential for long-term sustainability. As investors of change, this surely has to be the priority and it’s our obligation to ensure we are supporting people and communities in the most effective way possible.

When all said and done, a charity’s objectives should always focus on the evolving needs of the projects it supports. Graduating from delivering campaigns with social responsibility, to producing those with concrete returns that concentrate on progressions to success will ultimately build resilience and deliver sustainability – especially if achieved in partnership with other likeminded organisations.

The composition of collaborations can vary of course, and the format may not be to every charity’s liking, but in my experience successful partnerships strengthen organisations to deliver against shared objectives, performance targets and ultimately result in far more valuable projects for all concerned.