Partnerships in the Third Sector: Why two heads can be better than one

Some of the world’s most successful global organisations, past and present, such as Apple, The Edison Electric Light Co., Warner Bros., and Parfums Chanel, are business partnerships that epitomise the old adage ‘two heads are better than one.’

There is no need to detail why working as part of a team is beneficial to organisations but it is worth looking at the positive effects of forming partnerships between organisations and specifically those involved in the charity sector; whether that be with other charities or private-sector organisations.

According to the Charity Commission’s report Strength in Numbers, the overwhelming majority (82%) of charities with experience of collaboration report it to have been a success.

So what are the benefits of collaboration?


Collaboration with other organisations allows charities to communicate their campaign messages with added clout and credibility.  Through utilising their own and their partner organisation’s multiple channels of communications their respective profiles can be boosted locally, regionally and nationally.  A prime example of this is the collaboration between Oxfam and Marks and Spencer to raise awareness of the Haiti earthquake, Pakistan Floods and East Africa Food crisis campaigns.  M&S used its social media channels to discuss the campaigns and appeal for donations from its customers.  In doing so, Oxfam’s campaign message reached M&S customers, who may not have been previously aware of Oxfam’s appeal as well as other Facebook and Twitter users.

The same can be said for different charity organisations working together.  The University of Leeds conducted a survey into the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) and found that by increasing its relationship with partnership organisations the DRC was able to create better relations with other disability focused organisations.  Furthermore, according to a member of the DRC staff “Initially there was a lot of suspicion“. But the partnership work has built trust and has made the DRC more transparent.”

Work and Services

Working together in partnerships could potentially result in improved working practices whilst maintaining or reducing costs through streamlining services and reducing administration fees.  Effectiveness and efficiency of services would also be increased through the sharing of information and research thus gaining competitive advantage. Brit Insurance has incorporated The British Red Cross into their Corporate Social Responsibility programme by creating the Building Safer Communities partnership.  Furthermore, Brit Insurance provides emergency response vehicles and equipment for the British Red Cross around the UK.  In doing so, the services provided by the British Red Cross are improved, as well as the reputation of Brit Insurance through their CSR alliance with the charity.

In the current economic climate, collaboration between charities could be vital for survival.  Smaller charities face a multitude of challenges, such as reliance on a small number of individuals or volunteers and scarcity of resources.  Through working in partnership with other charities, the stability and income of all parties involved has the potential to increase greatly through the sharing of resources, research and expertise.

However the Charity Commission’s Report states that 84% of charities with an income between £100-250K are currently collaborating whilst only 68% of charities with incomes below £5K are doing so. Therefore, it’s clear that smaller charities need to seriously consider collaborating with other organisations to ensure their survival and increase their effectiveness, taking inspiration from the proven success of larger charities who have shown how well it can work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Case Study

How we work with local authorities and public sector clients


Connect with us