NCVO launches its “Rebalancing the Relationship” report on charities and collaborative working

The report is a thought-provoking read for any charities and social enterprises who work in collaboration (or are thinking about it).

In February, NCVO published its report on “Rebalancing the Relationship”. The report is the conclusion of a two year project looking at how charities can successfully work together in partnership to deliver greater impact for the people and communities they serve. It focusses particularly on the context of competitive commissioning for public sector contracts.

The report includes both cautionary tales of how collaborative working can go wrong and inspiring case studies of how it can be used to its greatest effect. It considers the concept of “ethical competition” and looks at the role large charities can play in empowering smaller, user-led or local charities to deliver public sector contracts in their area through effective use of collaboration.

The report emphasises that successful collaborations should be value-driven and suggests that when contemplating collaboration; organisations should ask themselves questions around:

  1. Is there a power imbalance between the collaborating charities and how can be level the playing field?
  2. How can we show empathy for the challenges faced by the other organisation and what do we recognise that it does better than us?
  3. How can we allow space for the other organisation to have an honest conversation about their experience working with us?
  4. How do we maintain open communication throughout the collaboration?
  5. How do we prioritise impact on the people and communities which we serve?

We recommend the report as a thought-provoking read for any charities and social enterprises who already work in collaboration with other charities or who are considering entering into collaboration.

The report notes the importance of entering into legal collaboration agreements which are meaningful and accessible for all parties. Bates Wells has a wealth of experience in helping charities work through the legal issues in collaborations, including structuring collaborations and putting together agreements. We also regularly assist charities which are contemplating submitting joint bids for local or national government tenders. We recognise how written agreements between the parties can be used to embed and underpin the values outlined in NCVO’s report.

You can read more about collaborative working in our article here. If you would like to discuss how we could help you with your plans to collaborate then please get in touch with Augustus Della-Porta, Rachel Southern, or your usual contact.


This information is necessarily of a general nature and doesn’t constitute legal advice. This is not a substitute for formal legal advice, given in the context of full information under an engagement with Bates Wells.

All content on this page is correct as of February 26, 2021.