Headlines: March 9th, 2005

The voluntary sector is being urged to create a fund to encourage larger organisations to work in partnership with smaller ones on certain projects. The call comes in a new report , “1+1 = 3. Does size really matter?, described as a scoping study of collaborative working.The study, the first of its kind in the UK, has been produced by NCVO’s Partnerships Team, with funding from the Home Office. It highlights how partnership working can benefit both large and small organizations and involved 70 organisations. It features eight in-depth case studies, as well as describing benefits, barriers, drivers and lessons that can be learned from collaborative working.

It recommends the development of a marketing, communications and training strategy to build the voluntary sector’s capacity to engage in more large-small joint working and to improve the skills of the workforce. The authors Linda J Mitchell and Kelly A Drake, want to see the creation of a pilot project to sponsor, support and develop a new programme of collaborations and they call for the establishment of a large-small development fund that would meet the need for access to individual development support or ‘funded’ development time, which was by far the most frequently requested resource.

The study was conducted against a background of funders and the public feeling that there are too many charities and that there is duplication of provision. At the same time the NCVO believes the positive current trend towards localism and greater partnership working are driving the need for better understanding of different models of collaborative working and encouraging the demonstration of these methods.

The study identified a range of ‘added value’ benefits to collaboration for both large and small organisations. Linda Mitchell said it highlighted how this type of collaborative working offered real opportunities for small organisations, but also showed how a sensitive approach by the large organisation and the setting up of systems for power sharing and transparent communication had to be at the top of the agenda to make it work.’