Time Well Spent

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This page:

  • shares voluntary sector organisations' thoughts on working in a variety of partnerships
  • encourages you to ask the right questions before diving in.

Infrastructure organisations by their very nature need to work in partnership with others to be effective in delivering both voice and support to the sector. Effective, innovative and sustainable organisations work in a wide range of partnerships including collaborators, competitors, peers and service users.

With reduced resource, pressure to do more with less, greater demand for support and funders and policy makers promoting mergers, how do you best respond? Being outward looking, open to change and opportunities is vital when all around you is changing. Are the stars aligning to open up new partnership opportunities or are you operating where others are less willing to engage and where local funders are opting to promote competition?

What's driving the change for partnerships?

  • Competition?
  • Cuts in funding?
  • New funding?
  • Policy/funder pressure?

What models are out and there and how do you choose?


Are you considering a formal or informal partnership?


Catalyst Stockton is a good example of consortia done well. It began as a children and young people partnership (a formal one), then health and wellbeing board. They realised they had so much in common that they decided to go for consortia. Individually they couldn't bid for a million pound project, but as a consortia they can. 

Read more about consortia.


  • All mergers must be driven by being better able to support your beneficiaries, whether that is to maintain what could be lost or be an added benefit.
  • Mergers partners must be authentic, they need to show they have clarity in their own organisation.
  • Process must be transformative not additive.
  • All about trust, should you collaborate.
  • Kate Scales, Voluntary Action Arun and Chichester says with a merger you still have a CEO that performs in strategy etc. but frees up some capacity.
  • Two individuals once met at the same events, both representing the sector. Now it's merged, it frees up one whole person to do something else.
  • Mergers can be very different in the voluntary sector to the private.
  • Get your communications ready, prepare your questions.

Find out more about mergers.

Last reviewed: 09 June 2017

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This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 09 June 2017

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