Many businesses have already adopted collaboration as a way of working, teaming up with other organisations to innovate and optimise one another’s skills. More often than not however, we are encouraged to be continually working against our competitors in order to get ahead. When it comes to charities, the competitive field is different and amazing things can happen if you work together. Why not team up with your neighbouring charities and reap the benefits, boosting your cause and others in the process?
Here are some ways you can collaborate with other charities to get better results:
1. Share a van for home collections
Home collections encourage people to give more because it is easy and convenient for them and allows you to take larger items such as furniture. It is also much easier for donors to sign up for Gift Aid as you already have their address. Home collections are wholly worthwhile but can be a little pricey to carry out. The cost of running a large van and all the collateral expenses can build up, as well as the need for one or two volunteers to collect the goods.
Sharing a van with a neighbouring charity means that costs can be halved and labour shared so you can do more home collections and collect more donations for both causes. Access to a van also allows you to offer home clearance, a service some charities have already found to be very lucrative.
2. Host events together for greater impact
Holding local events such as fun runs, coffee mornings and other fundraisers are proven ways to increase donations and bring the community together. Combining budgets, volunteers and contacts is likely to increase reach to the community and allow for a bigger and better event. Raising more donations and sharing them is still likely to get more funds for your cause than going at it alone. Putting on more impressive fundraisers together also puts you in good stead for future events.
3. Share an investment on products or services
Perhaps not directly related to raising funds and donations, sharing investments on certain services or products can be a fantastic way to cut costs. The most obvious example is paying for a day’s training for volunteers – if the training cost is the same whether you send 10 or 30 people along to the course, why not share the cost and all get the benefits?
Many products, ranging from consumables like receipt rolls to advanced technology solutions such as Gift Aid software or EPOS systems, are cheaper when purchased in quantity. Teaming up with other charities for a joint procurement exercise means you can achieve all the benefits at a reduced cost.
4. Define who specialises in which goods
Many charities look to increase donations and income by having shops which focus on specific goods. On a competitive high street, having two shops nearby that also sell books, DVDs or games is likely to mean fewer donations for all. Taking a collaborative approach – you have all the books, we’ll take the clothing – means that you’re reducing competition, increasing the chances for your volunteers to specialise and helping produce better results for everyone.
5. Share volunteers
Gaining and retaining volunteers is one of the largest concerns within the charity retail sector. Getting the right numbers of volunteers, with the right mix of skills and available at the right times, is a challenge for almost every charity organisation we speak with. Teaming up with other charity shops in the area to share volunteers could mean that busy periods for each shop are covered and your volunteers have a more flexible working environment. Although controversial, it could help to begin to solve the difficult problem of not having enough volunteers on specific days while also encouraging volunteers to help lots of different charities. This could work particularly well for smaller charities, who could ‘borrow’ volunteers from more well known names.
Charity shops have an edge that most high street retailers can’t match – it’s not a zero sum game. Increasing your income doesn’t have to be at the expense of your fellow charities. Collaboration is fast becoming the new way to work– and no wonder. Working with other local charities can bring many benefits to your organisation; you can be happy in the knowledge that this is good for everyone and you’ve helped another cause alongside your own.