Collaboration can take a range of forms and is a growing trend.
For organisations considering working more closely together the Supporting Links to Commissioning project, hosted by Voluntary Action Leeds, can help you understand the options available.
Commissioners are under pressure to allocate resources to achieve the best possible results for service users. On top of this they have have reduced budgets and savings have to be made where possible. This can result in contracts being offered which are larger than many Third Sector organisations could deliver on their own.
Providers can respond to this by exploring ways of collaborating with each other.
Types of Collaboration
Different ways that organisations can collaborate are introduced below:
Informal networking groups provide great opportunities to build contracts, hear and share experiences and keep in touch with relevant organisations working in the same field. Of course technology now makes the sharing of information much easier and can help networks be more effective.
Shared Staff or Resources
Sharing staff in Human Resources or Finance, having joint purchasing arrangements or shared IT systems are all examples of how organisations can join up their resources or functions for mutual gain. Benefits can include reduced cost and improvement of service.
Organisations are increasingly coming together to share accommodation. Coming together in this way can mean that property can be owned which would not have been possible for groups by themselves. Sharing a property can encourage peer learning and enhance organisational development generally. This can sometimes be a first step to later closer collaboration.
Joint Service Delivery
The size of some competitive tenders means that Joint Service Delivery may be the best way for smaller organisations to secure a role and share their specialist knowledge. Many smaller groups in Leeds already collaborate in this way. Other collaboration can happen around influencing and campaigning and fundraising.
Setting up a Joint Vehicle
Two or more groups who want to work together may decide to form a new separate company or charity in which each has an agreed stake and role. In this way they can manage the collaboration and joint working on and an agreed agenda without losing autonomy and with the advantages that separating legal liabilities and contracting arrangements can bring.
Two or more organisations may decide to combine and form one organisation. In Leeds, following a period of sharing premises, Voluntary Action Leeds and Leeds Voice have merged in this way. At a national level, the Development Trusts Association and bassac (the British Associations of Settlements and Social Action Centres) have also recently merged to form Locality.