Setting up and running a charity – guidance

Work with other charities

How to identify partners to work with, draw up agreements and fundraise for other charities.

When to work with another charity

Charities can work with other charities to carry out their aims. This joint working could include:

  • fundraising, donating or making a grant to the other organisation
  • collaborating to deliver a project or contract, or share facilities

Before your charity decides to do one of these things, you should start by asking what you intend to achieve. The trustees must properly consider and be satisfied that:

  • it will be an effective way of using your charity’s resources to further its charitable purposes
  • it will be in your charity’s best interests
  • your charity’s governing document doesn’t prevent you from doing it
  • you have identified and can deal with any risks that the proposal presents

This may be straightforward or more complex, depending on:

  • how similar the other organisation’s aims are to your charity’s purposes
  • the nature of the activity you intend to support or collaborate on
  • the value, duration and nature of the support or collaboration
  • how easily you can verify how your charity’s funds are being spent

How to collaborate with another charity

Your charity can work with another charity as a way to meet its charitable purposes. For example:

  • joining forces to win a contract to deliver public services
  • sharing knowledge, skills and information
  • sharing office space or equipment to save money
  • improving the quality of service you can offer – for example, you could provide joint training events for your staff
  • being able to help more beneficiaries – for example, joint fundraising ventures may attract more people

To learn more about different ways of working with another charity, read the Charity Commission’s guidance Choosing to collaborate: how to succeed.

How to find another charity to work with

Opportunities to work with other charities may occur naturally. For example, you may share the same premises as another charity that is doing similar work to yours.

But you may have to start from scratch and identify other charities to work with. The most important thing is that you have purposes which are similar enough to the other charity. Get legal advice if you aren’t sure if the other charity’s purposes are compatible with yours.

Use online services to find and contact other charities to work with, including:

Before you agree to work with another charity you must be sure that working together is:

  • in the interests of your charity’s beneficiaries
  • a good way to meet your charitable purposes

Make sure the trustees are satisfied that working with a partner charity:

  • is an appropriate use of your charity’s money
  • isn’t motivated by financially supporting a person or an organisation – this could affect your charity’s public benefit
  • doesn’t involve you in activities which may not be entirely charitable, eg campaigning that goes beyond the legal limits for charities
  • won’t affect the support you already receive from donors or others

Both charities need to be clear from the beginning about what they want from each other. Think about:

  • how both charities will retain their independence
  • how compatible the way you work is
  • defining what each charity will be responsible and liable for
  • the roles and responsibilities of each charity

Read the commission’s guidance Choosing to collaborate: how to succeed before entering a partnership.

Get a formal agreement

Once you’ve found a partner to work with, write a formal agreement to clearly state what both charities want to achieve and have agreed to.

How much you should include in your written agreement depends on how complex the collaboration is.

For example, two small charities that want to share a minibus may only need a simple written agreement. Two larger charities that plan to work together to deliver training or secure funding might need a fuller agreement.

Whatever the size and complexity of the proposed arrangement, you should assess the risks involved and make sure you have addressed them properly in the agreement. For example you will need to decide whether to include a termination clause, in case your joint venture doesn’t work out. For more guidance read ‘Joint working agreements’ from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

You may need to get professional advice. If you don’t already have a legal adviser, you can find one using the following links:

Give money to other charities

Your charity may wish to raise funds for or give money to other charities, for example if they can use it for a particular cause more effectively.

Grants and donations

Your charity can fund another charity as a way of meeting its charitable purposes. You must be sure that this is in your charity’s best interests. This includes checking that any money you give is used as you expected it to be.

Check your governing document to make sure that it doesn’t prevent you giving money to another charity.

Record your decision to fund another charity in the minutes of your meeting.

Fundraising for another charity

Your charity can also fundraise on behalf of another charity. For example, if there has been a major disaster or emergency you can support another charity that is running an appeal.

Make sure the other charity’s aims are consistent with your own.

Before you start, you will need to get permission from the charity you want to raise funds for. You should also tell your donors where the funds are going. For example, if you are raising funds for more than one charity, explain what proportion of funding will go to each charity.

For more on fundraising for another charity, read the commission’s detailed guidance on fundraising.