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Better Together

Having attended last week's meeting of the Kent and Medway VCSE Steering Group in East Malling, I started to reflect on a few important topics being faced by CAP, our clients and our partners. One of them was how collaboration and partnership working needs to remain a priority for any VCSE organisation.

Sometimes, like now, when times in the VCSE sector are really competitive it's tempting to start thinking inwards and to withdraw into your organisational shell. When some organisations drift into sharp practice, playing dirty and not-so-ethical behaviour, it is tempting to close the shutters and try to ride out the storm.

From our experience organisations that are the most sustainable are those that continue to look outwards, to assess what is happening around them and to stay in touch with trusted partners, even when things are tough. Having friends and confidants is important in our personal life, so why not in our professional lives too.

Working with others is something we encourage all our clients to embed in their strategic and operational plans. But why?

We;;, collaborations are essential for UK organisations for several reasons:

  1. Resource Sharing: Many charities and social enterprises operate with limited resources, whether it's funding, staff, or expertise. Collaborating allows groups to pool their resources, reducing costs and maximizing efficiency. This can include sharing office space, equipment, or even personnel.

  2. Increased Impact: By working together, organisations can amplify their impact. Collaborations enable us to tackle larger projects or address complex issues that may be beyond the scope of any single organization. This can lead to greater effectiveness in achieving their missions and delivering services to those in need.

  3. Specialization and Expertise: Charities and other VCSE groups often have unique areas of expertise or specialization. Collaborating allows them to leverage each other's strengths and knowledge, leading to more comprehensive solutions to social problems. For example, one charity might excel in fundraising, while another has expertise in program implementation. By joining forces, they can achieve more together than they could separately.

  4. Networking and Advocacy: Collaborating with other charities provides opportunities for networking and advocacy. By working together, charities can build stronger relationships with other stakeholders, such as government agencies, businesses, and other nonprofits. This can help them advocate for policy changes, raise awareness of important issues, and mobilize support for their causes.

  5. Risk Reduction: Collaborating can help us all spread risks associated with projects or initiatives. By sharing responsibilities and resources, charities can mitigate the impact of potential failures or setbacks. This can be particularly important for smaller charities with limited capacity to absorb risks on their own.

  6. Learning and Innovation: Collaborations foster a culture of learning and innovation within the charity sector. By collaborating with others, charities can exchange ideas, learn from each other's successes and failures, and develop new approaches to addressing social challenges. This can lead to improved practices and better outcomes for the communities they serve.

Overall, collaborations are essential for UK VCSE organisations to maximize their impact, enhance their effectiveness, and address the complex social issues they aim to tackle. By working together, charities can achieve more than they could alone, ultimately making a greater difference in the lives of those they serve.

There are some good networks and peer to peer sessions running in Kent at the moment, run by Stronger Kent Communities, Funding for All, Thanet District Council and several others too.

Why not go to one and make some new friends? You never know - it could transform your prospects!

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