Working in consortia helps charities increase their access to funding and build capacity through peer support and sharing resources and experience, new research has found. However, trustees are being reminded to be aware of both the opportunities and the risks associated with working in consortia that bid for and deliver public services.
The messages emerge from a new research report; Consortia for the delivery of public services: the issues for small and medium-sized charities, published by the Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities. The research looked at five consortia formed to deliver public services. The consortia featured are diverse in size and focus, and include consortia with both formal and informal structures.
The new research follows earlier work, which looked at charities working collaboratively and identified some types of activities with which smaller charities in particular experienced difficulties. The new research looks at the strategies and approaches charities have used in order to participate successfully in charity consortia and explores issues that arise for consortia that were formed to help members tender for and deliver public services.
The report reveals that consortia working can result in a range of benefits for smaller charities in particular, with some stressing that consortia working helped them gain access to strong peer support networks and helped them cost their services properly and operate in a more business-like way. One participant commented:
“If you’re a smaller organisation, you don’t have an HR department and it’s a massive help to be able to call someone to check that you’re doing things in the right way and to provide you with support.”
The report also includes a checklist setting out questions which charity trustees might find useful to ask themselves before deciding to join a consortium.
Sam Younger, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission said:
“This research demonstrates that working together in consortia is a really effective way for charities to access more funding sources than they can on their own. However, it is surprising that decisions to join consortia in some cases are not being taken by trustees.
While everyone hopes nothing will go wrong, there are more steps charities should take to protect themselves from any potential pitfalls. I think this report is an essential tool for any trustees considering consortia working, which in the current climate I’m sure will be welcome.”
The research also found that:
The report says;
‘Consortia working can bring specific benefits both in terms of the quality of service that beneficiaries receive, and for consortia members who may experience increased access to funding; capacity-building; peer learning and support; shared resources and raised profile. However it is not without risk. We hope that this report provides some useful insight into the issues charities need to be aware of, and how they can successfully manage their way through these issues.’
The report focuses on five consortia:
'Consortia for the delivery of public services: the issues for small and medium-sized charities' can be downloaded from the Charity Commission website.
For more information call the Charity Commission Press Office.
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